Do principal-educators have the ability to transform schools? A South African perspective

02 Jul 2020

Post-1994 South Africa adopted a new education system that would seemingly break with the past practices of the apartheid education system (Naicker, 1999) and produce citizens prepared for a democratic dispen- sation in South Africa. Accordingly, the new system of outcomes-based education was introduced in order to create the critical mass needed for the transformation of society. Thus, schools would become the sites where democratic practices for democratic citizenship would be fostered. Government duly promulgated the applicable policy documents (National Education Policy Act of 1996; South African Schools Act of 1996). Our contention is that, despite the fact that education legislation paved the way for thinking differently about education in South Africa, principal-educators are not necessarily imbued with the ideals/virtues of democratic practices needed to empower them to engage in re?ective democratic practices within a school context. We argue that the virtues of democracy must be learned through practising democracy. Many principal-educators, who were principals and educators pre-1994, as well as others, who quali?ed thereafter, may not have acquired any knowledge of the virtues of democracy, or having done so, may not be practising them. The authorities seem to assume that principal-educators are naturally imbued with the knowledge of the virtues of democracy and are able to put these virtues into practice.