How do the school management teams function in the context of educational change in South Africa? : the case of sixteen primary schools in the Vulindlela West Circuit, Pietermaritzburg region.
Conco, Rejoice Thandekile.
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The first democratic elections in April 1994 brought about drastic changes in South African education system. One of the changes legislated in the South African Schools Act of 1996 has a profound influence on the management of state schools. The South African Schools Act of 1996 created a need for change from an autocratic to a democratic style of school governance and management. This research project sought to investigate how School Management Teams function in primary schools in Vulindlela West Circuit, Pietermaritzburg Region in the context of educational change. The research approach was the qualitative case study. The study involved sixteen (16) primary schools in Vulindlela West Circuit. A questionnaire and interviews were used to collect data. In this study fifty-five (55) questionnaires were administered to all SMT members. Interviews were conducted in three primary schools, which yielded seven respondents. The questionnaire data was analysed by using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS). Data of descriptive nature was organized in terms of response types and general trends, and constructed in a manner that enabled the researcher to address the research questions for this study. The findings of this study revealed that most of the roles and responsibilities performed by the School Management Teams (SMTs) were both curriculum and administrative duties. It was found that hierarchical management structure was still evident in schools. It was also found that the principal involved the members of the SMT in decision-making but did not make use of their input. It is evident that there was an element of fear and mistrust on the side of the principal relating to the delegation of powers to other members of the School Management Teams. The results revealed that most of the SMT members had induction guidelines and had undergone management training. Lastly, it was found that the most important skill the SMT required in order to be effective was stress management. The conclusions that were drawn from the findings indicated that the School Management Teams need extensive training in the following areas: time management, understanding of roles and responsibilities as prescribed in the Employment of Educators Act of 1998; management of change; continuing induction; training in decision-making and delegation of power, and, finally, stress management. It was concluded that without specific attention to the effective management development programmes for School Management Teams (SMTs) attempts at improving quality of education in South Africa are likely to be ineffective.