The role of traditional leaders in the maintenance of learners’ discipline in rural schools: a multi-site case study.
Mngomezulu, Nhlanhla Mbuso.
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This thesis constitutes the report of the study conducted towards the fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in education. This research project explored the role of traditional leaders in the maintenance of learners’ discipline in rural schools focusing in three secondary schools located in Ilembe District, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. This study further explored how traditional leaders’ role in schools is experienced by school governors as well as district officials and vice versa. Therefore, this study aimed at understanding how and why some schools utilise traditional leaders in handling issues of learner discipline while others do not. The study was underpinned by interpretivist paradigm and adopted a qualitative multi-site case design. Semi-structured interviews, documents reviews and observations were used to generate data which was analysed through themes generated by using NVIVO. NVIVO is a qualitative data analysis computer software package that helps qualitative researchers to organise, analyse and generate insights from unstructured or qualitative data. The findings of the study suggest that schools and traditional leaders co-exist but have vast leadership approaches in the maintenance of learner discipline. The interaction of school principals with traditional leaders was characterised by complexities, challenges and opportunities. Although the working relationship between schools and the traditional leaders was ad hoc and reactionary, schools that collaborated with Izinduna or Amakhosi succeeded in minimising learner misbehaviour in their schools. The traditional leadeship promotion of indigenous practices underpinned by Ubuntu values appears to have been the missing link in the schools. These findings affirm the existence of the network of interrelationships with systemic levels between schools and communities. The study also showed the significance of engaging invitational leadership where leaders wish to initiate work relationships. While the study confirms the significance of the partnerships between schools and local communities in maintaining learners’ discipline, it also suggests the need for the involvement of traditional leaders in school governance as growers of discipline in rural communities. Lastly, the implications of the findings for various stakeholders are discussed.