Teacher attrition : experiences of four school principals in the Umlazi District.
Meyiwa, Nompumelelo Priscilla.
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Teacher attrition is common in developed, developing and underdeveloped countries. School principals are tasked with a responsibility to oversee that teaching and learning takes place as smoothly and efficiently as possible and to handle whatever disturbance that takes place in a school including teacher. Teacher attrition affects them directly as it interferes with planning and daily routine in the school. There are many factors which influence teacher attrition such as poor working conditions, poor pay, stress, pursuit of “greener pastures” and many others. This study seeks to explore and document the experiences of school principals regarding teacher attrition. It is a case study of four school principals from Umlazi district. The main research question is: What are the experiences of school principals with regards to teacher attrition? The purpose is to document the experiences of school principals and; to identify factors which influence teacher attrition. I intend to examine challenges experienced by principals with regards to teacher attrition and to find out how principals manage these challenges. This is a qualitative study from an interpretive approach. It explores the experiences of school principals after a teacher transfers, resigns or even dies. Case study is used because of the nature of the study (small scale). Semi-structured interviews were used to collect data. These recorded and transcriptions were done personally. Data was coded according to emerging themes during analysis then interpreted in order to make meaning. Sampling is purposeful and school principals both at Primary and Secondary school level are the respondents as I believed their experiences would not be the same. The findings revealed that the common experiences of school principals during teacher attrition were frustration and stress; disruption of learning and compromised student performance and lack of support of the Department of Education. Resignations were influenced by job dissatisfaction and jobrelated stress. These forced teachers to pursue “greener pastures” in the business sector as well as private sector. It also emerged that school principals were experiencing a lot of frustrating and stressful challenges during teacher attrition and most of them found it hard to cope with these challenges. They also complained about the lack of support from the education department. The findings are based only on data collected during interviews. v These findings are going to help the Department of Education to devise new strategies that will help school principals cope better with teacher attrition and also find ways of speeding up the teacher replacement process in order to prevent loss of contact time. Principals also got a platform to voice their concerns whilst they shared their experiences.