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South Africa: increasing workload for school principals

The President of the South African Education Union (SAOU), Dr. Jopie Breed, has expressed concern about the declining capacity of South African’s schools to successfully meet the country’s need for quality schooling.

In his opening address to SAOU’s annual symposium of school principals, held in Port Elizabeth on 2-5 September, Dr Breed said that the government should address the ever-increasing workload of school leaders. He also criticized the country’s language policy which could pose a threat to Afrikaans as one of South Africa’s languages of instruction.

Chris Klopper, Chief Executive Officer of SAOU, questioned plans discussed in the South African Parliament last week to introduce “performance pay”. He suggested that the government pay more attention to its own performance, referring to the education ministry which failed to supply 26,000 schoolbooks to Eastern Cape schools.

In his keynote address, EI General Secretary, Fred van Leeuwen warned the school principals of private sector management practices sneaking into our educational institutions. “In a market driven, competitive world, school leaders are at risk of being transformed from educational leaders to administrators, and teachers work is at risk of being changed radically as they are forced to prioritise high stakes tests in the name of accountability,” according to Van Leeuwen.

He also said that “the principal, ideally, is a teacher, the first among equals, who leads the education process and the school community.” Moreover, Van Leeuwen noted that “distributed or collaborative leadership can help ease the principals’ workload and at the same time empower teachers and the pedagogical community as a whole to exercise leadership and participate in the development of their schools”.

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