Challenges facing heads of departments in rural schools.
Mthethwa, Fikani Goodpresent.
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The study was conducted in four rural schools with low leaner populated area in a ward within the KZN Pinetown District. This ward covers a vast sparsely population area, leading to low learner populations in schools. The common factor among the selected schools was that the leaner enrolments were above one hundred and fifty but below two hundred. This qualified them to have only one HOD appointed in terms of the Employment of Educators Act (EEA) (Act 76 of 1998). Five HODs participated in the study; three from three primary schools and two from one secondary school. The first research question of the study investigated challenges facing heads of department (HODs) regarding conflict between the teaching and the management roles. The second research question sought to investigate strategies applied by the participants in maintaining the balance between management and teaching. Theoretical frameworks underpinning this qualitative study were the Situational Leadership model and bargaining and negotiation theory. Case study methodology was employed in the study. The data collection method was the audio taped semi-structured interviews on the tension between the role of teaching and that of curriculum management and the strategies employed in addressing them. In order to ensure confirmability of data documents produced and used within the departments were also sought as part of the interviews. The findings indicated HODs struggled for time to perform management duties. It was also found that teaching time is negatively affected as a result of performing some management duties during teaching periods. It also became evident that supervision and mentoring of educators was compromised. Working in isolation and dealing with many learners’ social problems were also identified as challenges. The study also found that delegations, assistance from principals, and participating in workshops organised by the Department of Education were some of the strategies used by the HODs in trying to strike a balance between the roles.