The changing role of headteachers at primary schools in Gautemg, 1994 - 1999

Bhana, Neeru Mohan
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This research report argues th at the devolution of the functions of finance,governance and curriculum through the decentralisation process to schools has affected the role of headteachers in different ways. The report examines the international perspective on decentralisation and then traces the policy development related to decentralisation in South Africa. The major policy documents traced were the White Papers on education, the Hunter Report and the South African Schools Bill crucial aspects of which were finally enacted into the South African Schools Act of 1996. These policies are reviewed from the perspective of the decentralisation of finance, governance and curriculum. Keeping the context of the South African Education background in mind, the state proposes th at the demand for community control, greater participation and involvement would best be promoted in a decentralised system of education. This report argues how the historical background, caused through the racial division of schools, influenced the implementation of the policy of decentralisation at different schools and the impact this has had on the role o f the head. The research finds that the present decentralisation policy further disadvantages the so-called disadvantaged schools, thus making the impact of the policy greater for the heads of these schools. It is proposed th a t w ith decentralisation heads assume increased administration functions and decreased instructional functions. Increased accountability and the sharing of power w ith sta ff further intensify the role of he head. A more collaborative approach to school development has demanded that heads change their managerial styles. Heads drive changes in schools. The manner and degrees of change vary according to the head's capacity, understanding of the policy documents, attitude in creating a positive culture and resources available.