Advent of the democratic dispensation in south africa

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The advent of the democratic dispensation in South Africa has brought about significant changes in the political, social and economic spheres of the country. As a microcosm of society, the education sector too has been caught up in the ebb and flow of these democratic changes (Zatman, Florio and Sikorski, 1997:3). Consequently new educational laws and policies that are consistent with the new dispensation have been put in place. Although the transformation from apartheid education to Outcomes-Based Education (OBE) was necessitated by the democratic demands, its implementation is not a forgone conclusion.

According to (ANC, 1995:8), “education and education systems are, above all, human and social institutions with all their capabilities and limitations”. Education institutions need to be managed. Unlike machines, they cannot be programmed for certain outcomes and then set to run by themselves. School principals together with other members of the School Management Teams (SMTs) as change agents and key personnel in schools, are faced with the challenge of managing these changes. Unfortunately many variables in the process of change are either unknown or cannot be controlled (Pudi, 2005:148). However, it is important to understand the roles that SMTs have to play for the effective management of the educational changes in schools. It is because of this that the roles and effective management of change in schools through SMTs is both important and necessary. The demands of a new education dispensation have in effect made necessary a paradigm shift in the management of schools.

1.1.1 A paradigm shift in the management of schools

The introduction of OBE, the Integrated Quality Management Systems (IQMS), the National Curriculum Statement (NCS) and other educational changes in schools made imperative a modified or changed teaching approach from educators. More significantly effective implementation of OBE requires development of new management strategies and competencies from all the members of the SMTs. However the author is concerned about whether the current members of SMTs are sufficiently equipped with the necessary skills that will enable them to manage the current turbulences in schools. According to Zatman et al. (1997:3) it is convincing that school managers today are faced with a perplexing situation of trying to satisfy the needs and requirements of South Africa`s diverse population.

Gultig and Butler (1999:7) stress that the management development programmes should no longer focus on school principals only, but on other middle managers as well. These authors maintain that under conditions of decentralization and a significant shift towards school-based management, the focus should primarily be on the broader and more inclusive understanding of education management development. School development programmes should not be seen as the preserve of the few seniors at the top of the school management structure. To meet the needs of the present democratic society, school principals and the rest of the management team are expected to be involved in self development programmes and develop other stakeholders in the school. The latter could be members of the community who should feature in school governance structures.

According to Gultig and Butler (1999: vii) the paradigm shift in the management of schools has affected the way in which educators as classroom managers have to manage their classes. The dictates of OBE stresses team work and cross consultation with the learners.

DoE (2002:08) points out that since OBE is focused on the outcomes, and that the process of obtaining these outcomes are in essence different, there have to be different ways of managing not only the outcomes but also the process of arriving at these outcomes.

In the classroom, the OBE approach has led to a paradigm shift from teacher domination to active participation of learners as stakeholders in the teaching and learning process. School managers are required to ensure that educators implement the participatory mode of teaching effectively.

Gultig and Butler (1999:29) stress that prior to the birth of the democratic society in South Africa, leadership and management practices in some institutions including schools, were mainly focused on how efficiently educators executed their prescribed duties without giving them opportunity for creativity and innovation. According to Bertram, Gultig and Ndlovu (1999:61) in the present education dispensation members of SMTs and educators are given freedom to participate in school management and education of the learners. Participation is promoted by the constitution of the Republic of South Africa and other relevant management and leadership models that are not only participatory but also promote democracy.

According to Seller (2001:257) the present OBE approach “encourages an open school climate that promotes sharing of challenges, a cross-pollination of ideas and collaborative decision-making which is vital for high morale as well as increased efficiency and effectiveness”. This approach emphasizes alignment of school management with the democratic principles. The focus of this study is on investigating whether the members of SMTs in Mogodumo region in Limpopo province are capable of meeting the managerial expectations of the current democratic society that is brought by educational changes such the implementation of OBE in schools.

In the present era, school managers are expected to become responsive to the changing needs that are imposed by the democratic changes and educational transformation. Legislations and school policies are pivotal in achieving this ideal.

1.1.2 The impact of the new policies on the roles of school managers

The introduction of the present education policies and legislations demand members of SMTs to possess new managerial competencies that will enable them to implement these policies effectively (Gultig and Butler, 1999:64). The introduction of the current education Acts such as the South African Schools (Act 84 of 1996), with its emphasis on active participation of parents in school governance, has undoubtedly impacted on the roles of school managers.

Section 9(3) and 9(4) of the Constitution (S.A Constitution, 1996a) stipulate that “no person (including learners) may be directly or indirectly discriminated against on the basis of race, gender, colour, ethnic or social origin.” This has in part led to the introduction of the current admission policy in South African schools. The spin-off to the present admission policy which encourages schools to open up the doors for learning to all without discrimination, has led to an increasingly diversity of learner population. This diversity can create racial and discipline-related problems that can challenge the managerial capabilities of the current school managers.

Lemmer and Squelch (1993:27) note that school managers are faced with learners of different population groups and a multicultural ethos. These authors further point out that the introduction of this non discriminatory admission policy was an attempt to desegregate education so as to accommodate learners from all racial groups. However, the impact of this admission policy on the managerial capabilities of school managers cannot be left to chance.

One of the other policies that impact on school managers in Mogodumo region in Limpopo province is the policy on corporal punishment. This is stated in section 10(1) of the South African Schools Act (SASA, 1996b). The Act stipulates that “no person may administer corporal punishment at a school to a learner.” This can be interpreted as upholding human dignity and respect to learners as human beings. Learners are therefore protected from being treated in a cruel,

inhumane and degrading manner that may have been consistent with the previous dispensation and its relevant management practices. However, the impact of the abolition of corporal punishment has created serious disciplinary problems which demand school managers in Mogodumo region in Limpopo province to become more creative with regard to the application of appropriate alternative disciplinary measures for the maintenance of discipline and the effective teaching and learning in schools. The (DoE 2001:6) cites poor discipline as one of the manifestations of lack of transformation of management practices to conform to the changing times and environment.

School management, from curriculum to non curricular activities is achieved as a participatory endeavour where all stakeholders are not only informed but also actively involved.

1.1.3 Participatory management approach

School managers as leaders hold influential positions in schools. They are thus charged with the responsibility to manage educational changes in schools in the province. In their efforts to align changes with educational reforms, school managers today are expected to adopt leadership and management practices which are consistent with the democratic principles.

Since this mode of management requires active participation of stakeholders in schools, it impacts on the managerial roles of school managers. Stakeholders such as parents were included in the governance of schools prior to the present democratic dispensation as stipulated in section 9 subsection 1 of South African Schools Act (SASA, 1996b). However they were often not provided opportunities to participate actively in executing the roles that they were supposed to play. In responding to the demands of the democratic society, this Act promotes parents not to be the rare species in schools anymore.

Through the South African Schools Act (SASA, 1996b), parents are not only charged with the responsibility for the education of their children but are also mandated by law to participate actively in school governance. This implies that the current school managers need to play the role of building strong bases for parent participation in schools. In order to practice participatory management meaningfully school managers are expected to take parents on board on matters that demand their attention.

Zatman et al. (1997:8) state that school managers as advocates of change are faced with a diversity of forces from within and outside the school arena. School managers are expected to involve the parents particularly members of the School Governing Body (SGB) in matters such drawing school budget and development of the mission statement of the schools. Apart from the involvement of parents, the scope for SMTs is further expanded by their involvement with learners and other external members of the public and clients who have a stake in the education


The post apartheid era in South Africa has dawned with tremendous changes that manifest themselves clearly within the education arena. Schools as components of the education system are faced with the challenge of implementing these changes in a meaningful way. As stated in section 1.1.1, educational changes such as the introduction of the OBE and NCS, IQMS and other changes that are brought by the changing needs of the current democratic society have been enacted. These changes require school managers to assume new managerial roles and responsibility. They are supposed to act as leaders and managers with the capabilities to manage the educational changes (Lombard, 2003:3). Unfortunately there is no policy document or norms and standards that precisely guide school managers on how to manage schools and these educational changes.

The researcher realizes that there is not yet a policy that serves as a guide for school managers on the management of schools and the current changes that characterizes them (schools). The Education Policy Act (Act 27 of 1996) which focuses on the roles of educators has been drawn to serve as guidance regarding the responsibility of educators as classroom managers.

Lombard (2003:3) argues that school managers of the pre-democratic era were mainly equipped with the skills to exercise control and fulfill administrative duties. This implies that their initial formal training that prepared them to become teachers did not equip them (school managers) with the knowledge and the capacity to execute managerial roles, particularly in change management. The training prepared them to manage classroom environments that prevailed during the pre-democratic era rather than to manage the changes experienced in contemporary schools.

From these discussions, it is evident that there is little relevance between the skills that are possessed by the present school managers in Mogodumo region in Limpopo province and new managerial expectations that they are required to play in their attempts to execute their managerial roles in schools

Based on these limitations, the researcher is not certain whether the current school managers in Mogodumo region in Limpopo province will be capable of managing and transforming schools in accordance with the demands of the democratic principles.

It is these uncertainties that have led the researcher to undertake an investigation into the roles that members of SMTs in Mogodumo region in Limpopo province play in their efforts to manage educational changes.


When the problem under discussion is analysed and evaluated, the question arises on whether members of School Management Teams in Mogodumo region in Limpopo province are capable of playing their roles in managing the changes in schools. From this, the problem statement for this study can be stated as:

The roles that school managers need to play in managing educational changes in schools in Mogodumo region in the Limpopo province.


The aim of this study is to investigate the role that school managers play in managing the educational changes in the Mogodumo region in the Limpopo province.


1.5.1 Importance and necessity

The study focuses primarily on the roles that school managers are supposed to play in the management of educational changes. Effective management of schools today requires school manager to have knowledge of the new managerial roles that are necessitated by the current educational changes.

This study is thus deemed necessary for school personnel, and in particular members of SMTs. It is because this study intends to equip them with the knowledge of the actual roles that they (school managers) are expected to play in the transforming education system in South Africa.

This knowledge is required by school managers if they are to manage changes in schools effectively.

The kind of knowledge that this undertaking intends to expose is deemed important not only for the self improvement of school managers, but also for the development and the improvement of the whole school. Other members of staff will also benefit from school managers through school-based in-service training that focuses on change management.

The present school managers are faced with the transforming education system in South Africa (DoE 1996:1). This study is therefore necessary for it does not only focus on the roles of school managers but also has a bearing on the exposition of changes and the new policies in education. Knowledge of these policies is deemed essential for the current school managers because it (knowledge) is regarded as one of the prerequisites for the successful execution of their new roles. As Morgan (1988:2) explains, school managers need to acquire the skills and knowledge that are necessary to deal with the consequences of transformation as it unfolds itself over time.

1.5.2 Contribution to the study

It is expected that the empirical findings from the sampled school managers will contribute to the body of knowledge of change management and the managerial responsibilities of the contemporary school managers. It should be noted that though generalizations cannot be made from the empirical findings, the results of the interviews with some of the members of SMTs in Mogodumo region are hoped to put to light the actual roles that school managers play in their effort to manage educational transformation.

It is hoped that this study will form a base for a better understanding of the way the current educational changes demand for the transformation of the managerial roles of school managers during this era. Morgan (1988: xii) emphasizes that dealing with the consequences of change requires managers to apply specific competencies that will enable them to identify “fracture lines”.


On the basis of the nature of this study which requires the researcher to listen to the verbal description of the experiences of the respondents in their natural environment, the researcher has opted to conduct this study within the qualitative paradigm. This approach requires research techniques such as the interview that involve social interaction between the researcher and the respondents rather than instruments and statistical methods that are common for the quantitative research design (Hoberg, 1999:80). He further states that the qualitative research approach emphasizes the intervention of the researcher in the natural setting of the respondents and allows for participant observation as well as gathering first-hand information from the respondents. On this basis, the researcher visited the sampled schools in the Mogodumo region in Limpopo province.

The intention was to understand the lived experiences regarding the roles and the strategies that members of the SMTs apply in their efforts to align the envisaged changes with the current school environments.


For the convenience of the reader and to avoid misunderstanding, certain concepts will be explained. The purpose of the explanation is to offer a clear understanding of what each concept means as it is used throughout this study.

1.7.1 Role

Hawkins (1984: 725) defines ‘role’ as “a person’s task or duty in an undertaking”. Rabothata (1982:3) emphasizes that ‘roles’ are “duties and responsibilities expected from a person occupying a certain position in an institution”. Roles can comprise the tasks ascribed to or expected of a person by virtue of the position held.

However, the researcher is of the opinion that it should be kept in mind that roles are not limited to occupational status, nor does the fact that one is cast in the role of a manager during working hours prevent him/her from taking on other roles such as a husband, president, father et cetera, at some other time.

Roles can also be defined as a set of expectations imposed on educators and school managers by the parents of learners, educationists and society in general (Pudi, 2005:147). From this perspective, it is evident that the roles of educators are based on the way the parents, the community or the society expect educators to behave.

The word ‘role’ will be used in this study to refer to the tasks and responsibilities that the members of SMTs are expected to execute in their efforts to manage the changes in the schools.

1.7.2 School Managers

The concept ‘school managers’ in this study does not only refer to the principals as the head of the school but also to other member of SMTs in schools. Besides the fact that principals are regarded as the highest-ranking professional educator, they do not manage the schools alone. Other personnel who manage and lead the school together with the principals such as the Deputy Principals and the Heads of Departments (HODs) are also regarded as managers. However it should be acknowledged that in some schools especially small schools, the senior teachers may also be co-opted into the management teams.

The concepts ‘school managers’ and members of School Management Teams or SMTs will be used interchangeably in this study.

1.7.3 Competencies

Van der Bank (1996:3) defines ‘competencies’ as the abilities to do something in a satisfactory or effective way. The concept ‘competencies’ is also defined as the ability to do something especially measured against a standard (Karpike and Murphy, 1996:33).

1.7.4 Paradigm

A ‘paradigm’ is a model that forms a basis of something (Morgan 1988:129). According to Bertram et al. (1999: vii) the concept ‘paradigm’ refers to ‘a frame of reference’. A paradigm is often based on a set of ideas or a particular way of making sense of the word and dealing with it.


Chapter 1: Introductory orientation

In this chapter, the background to the study, awareness of the problem, statement of the problem, aims of the study, motivation of the study, and description of the research methodology are discussed.

Chapter 2: The nature of change and educational changes in schools

This chapter contains literature study focusing on change. Particular focus is given the educational changes that impact on the roles of members of SMTs in the contemporary era.

Chapter 3: Educational changes in schools: the role of school managers

Emphasis is placed on the roles that members of the SMTs are supposed to play in their attempts to deal with the changes in schools. The impact of these changes on the school will be discussed. The suggested effective managerial competencies are also be highlighted.

Chapter 4: Research design and methodology

Planning of the research is undertaken. The research methodology together with data collection techniques used in this research is explained. The empirical research and methodology are outlined in this chapter. The research approach, the research methods and data collection techniques employed in this study are explained.

Chapter 5: Empirical research and findings

Presentation and analysis of the data collected is undertaken. The findings are discussed.

Chapter 6: Summary, recommendations and conclusion

The entire study is summarized. Conclusions regarding what school managers could do to rectify the situations in their schools are explained. Limitations of the study are explained. Recommendations for further research are stated.


This chapter provided the orientation to the study. The statement of the problem, aims and motivation for the study were outlined. In the following chapter the nature of change and educational changes in schools will be studied.




Change appears to be an ongoing natural process that tends to be inevitable in human life. Seller (2001:255) stresses that the call for change in all aspects of the educational delivery system has been continuous.

It has been stated in section 1.1 that the education system is South Africa has been restructured to keep abreast with current societal demands. Among various educational changes, restructuring of schools by the inclusion and active involvement of groups of stakeholders such as the SMTs, the SGBs and the Representative Council of Learners (RCLs) can be cited as some of the common changes in schools. These groups of stakeholders were not given chance to play appropriate roles that they were supposed to play in most schools prior to the present democratic era in South Africa. Effective involvement of these stakeholders has a bearing on the organizational structure of schools as well.

According to Bertram et al. (1999:vii) the democratization of the South African government encourages participation of stakeholders in the governance of the country. This demands a paradigm shift from autocratic and non-democratic leadership that was common during apartheid era. It suggests that instead schools should be run in a participatory and reflective manner.

In addition the necessity for improvement of the quality of the learning has brought about a change in the content and the method of teaching and learning in schools.

As pointed out in section 1.1.1, there has been a move to learner-centered OBE and NCS which promotes participation, setting measurable outcomes and continuous assessment of learners.

Fullan (1985:3) emphasizes that “it is no exaggeration to say that dealing with change is endemic in the post-modern society”. Apart from these changes other innovations have been introduced such as the abolition of corporal of punishment, the changed policy regarding admissions, the norms and standards for school funding and many other changes that cannot be covered within the scope of this study. All these have demonstrated that change is an inevitable phenomenon particularly within the current democratic society.

Based on the above discussion, it is evident that change is one of the important phenomena that impact on South African education today. Thus prior to investigating the roles that the managers of schools are supposed to play in aligning the changes with the present school environments, the researcher deemed it necessary to begin by defining change. A focus will also be on exposing some of the common educational changes that impact on the roles of school managers today. The intention is to provide a basis for understanding some of the educational changes that have brought about transformation of the managerial responsibilities of school managers in the present era.


Change can be defined from different perspectives. According to McLean (2005:16), change is defined as the alteration of individual behaviour or the substitution of one thing by another. On the other hand, Credora (2001:01) views change as the adoption of innovation where the ultimate goal is to improve the outcomes through alteration of practice.

In addition to these definitions, one may point out that change can be seen as a modification of existing rules, regulations, values and belief systems. It may be regarded as a way of correcting behaviours or the way things are done. In short, change is deemed to be a movement away from the status quo.


2.3.1 Change as a process

Fullan (1985:392) notes that change is not an event but a process. This statement is based on the fact that change takes place over a period of time. In the second of the eight basic lessons of the new paradigm of change Fullan (1992:21) further suggests that “change is a journey, not a blueprint”. It is non-linear and it is loaded with uncertainties. Like death and taxes, change is said to be an inevitable part of everyone’s life. In as much as one cannot run away from death, change cannot be avoided.

Resistance to change is not a solution. Change will continue even if people resist it. Lombard (2003:28) provides a very useful analysis of the main themes on educational change and its management. He identified the following main themes concerning the nature of change as a process:

• Change is structural and systematic. Any real change will often affect the whole system in that change in one part of an institution has a ripple effect in other parts.

• Change is a process that occurs over time. Because any changes take place overtime, organizational change is not a discrete event, it is not sequential and it does not follow a straight line.

• Change is multi-dimensional. Change encompasses a number of different dimensions including resources, contents, process, evaluation, emotions, beliefs, values and principles.

• Change is viewed differently by various participants and therefore evokes a range of responses. All those involved in the change process will have their own perception about it.

• Change management requires investment in technological resources, human resources, and management of the process. The effective management of change requires creativity and the ability to identify and solve problems.

Besides the different views on change, one could state that change is often regarded as a process. It is characterized by a series of interconnected events that may lead to alteration of values, beliefs or approaches over a period of time. During the process of change, the success of each stage of development is determined by the success of the previous stage (Lombard 2003:208). It should be noted that, while one may observe certain stages, change is not a linear process which follow clear cut stages. Complex changes may necessitate a number of stages for them to be sustained. Hence change depends on the extent of its complexity and other contextual factors. It affects people and their perceptions differently on a continuum from positive to negative.

2.3.2 The perceptions about change

Some school personnel may hold a positive view of change while others may view it negatively. Garrett (1997:96) states that those who view it negatively often see it as a means of stepping away from one’s firm ground (where one feels confident and is familiar with the rules and is also

able to function comfortably), into swampy territory (where one feels uncomfortable and uncertain about roles and relationships and is also less confident about the skills and knowledge necessary to function effectively).

According to Lombard (2003:6), when institutions such as schools are restructured, some of the members of the staff may worry about adjusting or losing their status or jobs. The recent changes such as redeployment and the introduction of OBE in South African schools have led to the reshaping of roles and the disruption of stability in schools. Feelings of uncertainty and discomfort have been stirred among some of the school personnel. Lombard (2003:6) further stresses that the senses of purpose of the majority of school managers and educators are often threatened by the changes. For instance the process of redeployment made some of the school managers to feel less confident about their skills. While some showed signs of resistance to these changes, others resorted to taking packages, early retirements and even resignation from the teaching field. It is as a result of this that there is a constant outflow of educators to other economic sectors (Tshabalala, 2006:12).

McLean (2005:20) points out that, change may be perceived negatively as a force that upsets individuals` comfort zone and constantly challenges them to think outside their boxes and behave in new ways that may be alien to them. For school personnel who hold a negative view, the changes that occur in schools often stir fear in them. Changes challenge their competence, power and authority. Th

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