Teachers' experiences of conflict with school principals : the impact on teachers, teaching and learning.
Mahomed, Afzel Kaloo.
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The year 1994 was a historic and an extremely important one for South Africa. The transition from the apartheid era prior to 1994 to a democracy subsequently heralded many changes especially in the Department of Education. There was a complete overhaul which warranted the writing of a new constitution for the Republic of South Africa, passing new legislation and change in policies and restructuring of the demarcations for education nationally. Schools were transformed with the amalgamation of all races which brought about a new culture in schools and in teaching and learning. The voices of the teacher unions were more vociferous and louder. However, many principals are still on the bandwagon of authoritarian, autocratic and dictatorial dispositions in running their schools. This type of leadership was subtly infiltrated by the apartheid government among heads of institutes. Despite twenty years of democracy this study has shown that principals’ leadership styles and behaviour towards teachers has not changed to comply with provisions of the constitution, thus leading to conflict between teachers and principals. A literature review nationally has shown that research on many aspects of conflict and the lack of management skills among principals of schools were done. However, areas where research was lacking were the types of conflict situation inflicted by principals on teachers and the effects these conflicts have on teachers and teaching and learning. Hence to fill this gap, even partially, these aspects were researched. This study adopted the interpretative paradigm and through qualitative research methodology, purposeful sampling of the participants and semi-structured interviews, the following were some of the findings that surfaced. First, most importantly, what emerged are the deleterious effects of conflicts on the physical and mental well-being of the teachers. In the second instance the repercussions of strained social relationships between the affected teachers and their colleagues, family and friends. Thirdly, principals tend to conceal conflict situations that arise hence; the public and senior officials of the Department of Basic Education are unaware of such occurrences. The fourth finding showed that teachers were unaware of the legal structures and organisations that existed in the Department of Education, for example, the Educator Psychological Service (EPS) and South African Council for Educators (SACE), School Governing Body (SGB) and School Management Team (SMT) which they can revert to for assistance. Further, teacher training courses did not equip them to cope with conflicts with the principal. Participants also highlighted the fact that principals ought to be mentored and prepared holistically in school management and leadership. Finally, this study also lists recommendations for further research in the different aspects of conflicts.
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