An overview of transformation in leadership and management in primary schools after a decade of democracy.
Post apartheid South Africa heralded changes in society and the educational system as a whole. South African schools have in turn become sites of phenomenal changes. The recent trends towards greater decentralization and partial privatization for many schools have placed more responsibility on school managers and leaders. School managers and leaders are faced with situations in which effective and efficient school management requires new and improved skills, knowledge and attitudes to cope with a wide range of new demands and challenges. During the apartheid era educational managers were subjected to many forms of suppression, which favored the previous government. The education system was characterized as being authoritarian, non - consultative and non-participatory. Educational leadership focuses on technical and bureaucratic functions of the school, and greater emphasis was placed on vertical structures. Leadership in South Africa today calls for a different mindset. The challenge is for leaders to recreate school as learning organizations that focus on results and accountability. There exists a need for schools to move away from being fixed structures that focus on constraint and control. Real transformation will depend upon the nature and quality of internal management and how principals execute, delegate, consult and participate with all stakeholders. Self-management is accomplished by an internal distribution of power within the school and in transformational leadership. School principals need to adopt a new paradigm of leadership in which leaders are intuitive and visionary. Democratic South Africa places emphasis on transformational leadership. A transformational style of leadership is significant as this style of leadership embraces a charismatic, visionary, cultural and empowering concept of leadership. Emphasis is given to higher levels of personal commitment towards accomplishing the goal of organizational learning and the development of a school climate that is productive and conducive to learning resulting in effective schools. Principals need to align themselves with the values of the new constitution bearing in mind democracy, equality, human dignity, freedom and justice. The challenge and need for leadership are great if education is to be uplifted and transtormed. One of the main findings of the research was a discrepancy between the principal's perception of his/her style of leadership and the perception of the staff regarding the principal's style of leadership. The principal perceived his / her role as a leader as being more transformational than transactional while members of the staff saw the principal as being a transactional leader. An extremely interesting finding was consensus between School Management Teams (SMT) and educators in respect of the views expressed: 75% of the SMT and educators agree with the perception that the principal's leadership style was autocratic.