«by SILVIA GONAONE MAKGONE submitted in accordance with the requirements for the degree of MAGISTER TECHNOLOGIAE in the subject HUMAN RESOURCE ...»
It is due to this unsatisfactory outcome of the results that the following appeared in the Editorial of the New Era newspaper (2009:6) “The Grade 10 examination results for the Omaheke Region are a total disaster and an embarrassment. The results are an indictment on teachers, learners, parents and the regional education authority. By presiding over this dismal performance, these key players have exposed themselves as either ineffective or simply incompetent. These stakeholders have in so many ways let down the region and have failed to protect the integrity of the education system in the country. When a region such as Omaheke achieves a 36 percent pass rate for its Grade 10 learners, naturally this raises many questions about the capacity and leadership of those in charge of education in that region”.
Although it is recognised that the failure rate in these grades could be contributed to by many factors (i.e. parental involvement, inadequate resources, not committed teachers, ill-disciplined learners, inadequate advisory services); the perception is always created by the public as if the education system is the sole contributor to the disastrous failure rate. The question arises, whether the blame should be put wholly on the education system, a few schools in the same region and other schools in the country at large perform well.
The latter argument is staffed by Barker (as cited by Wong and Evers, 2001:16) that:
“all too often educationalists (want) to explain away the poor performance of, say, an inner-city school be reference to the socio-economic circumstances of the area in which the school was located…one should not discount such factors entirely…On the other hand, even in these areas there can be very good schools with high levels of achievement. It depends essentially upon the leadership of the Head and the quality of the teaching as staffed by various literature sources.” While the contributions of other factors to the weak performance are not disputed, the feeling is that effectiveness of leadership needs to be investigated to ascertain its contribution towards academic performance in the schools.
This is where the interest of the study evolved to try to prove whether leadership in the schools is one of the major contributing factors to the outcome of the poor results in the Omaheke Region.
The study is also encouraged by the following:
• No study of the impact of school leadership especially the principal on the output of schools in Omaheke has been done
• It is observed that other reasons of non-performance are always put forward except leadership.
• No educational institution or courses are given to the current school leaders or aspiring leaders to prepare them for leadership positions in the schools.
The term “leadership” is not new in educational circles and many have attempted to
define this concept and a few of the definitions will be given underneath:
Bennis and Nanus (1985) stated that leadership is “an act of influencing, guiding in direction, course, action, and opinion.” This definition implies that leadership is about vision and goals and it would be expected that each leader’s action in a school will be directed towards the achievement of pre-determined outcomes if there are any.
Beare, Caldwell and Milikan (as cited by Telford, 1996:7) point out that leadership is concerned with gaining commitment to a set of values, statements of what “ought to be” which become the heart of the culture of the school. Davies (2006:15) concurs by staffing that leadership is about creating a culture within the school.
Lewis (1984:39) is of the opinion that, “like high-performing leaders in the private sector principals of successful schools have a vision of what their schools should be and of their role in achieving it.” The question then arises whether principals of the poor performing schools are contradicting this statement. Baldrige et al. (as cited by Bush, 2008:275) on the other hand caution that: “We... must be extremely careful about attempts to manage or improve... education with “modern management” techniques borrowed from business.” The assumption is that the research should shed more light on this.
The study is relevant and important as secondary education is seen as an essential foundation for the human resources required for building a sustainable competitive economy, but it seems as if the standard of education in the region is failing the nation.
This sentiment was uttered in the editorial of the New Era Newspaper (2009:6) that:
“The 36% pass rate for Omaheke should send shivers down the spines of its population for there lays a serious problem for this region because how else is Omaheke going to extricate itself from the poverty that plagues it when its human resource is condemned to ignorance and illiteracy.” It is utterances like this that necessitated the carrying out of this study to ascertain whether leadership indeed contributed to the poor academic performance of the three selected schools in the Omaheke Educational Region.
1.4 Research questions and null hypothesis This study was aimed at investigating the instructional leadership of poor performing schools’ principals based on certain principals’ behaviours as perceived by teachers and inspectors and the potential relationship between these behaviours and learners’
academic achievement. The study was guided by the following questions:
1. Which principal instructional leadership job functions identified by the Principal Instructional Management Ratings Scale (PIMRS) instrument are being demonstrated by the principals of these schools as perceived by the teachers?
2. Which principal instructional leadership job functions are being demonstrated by the principals of these schools as perceived by the inspectors?
3. Is there a significant difference between the perception of the teachers and that of the inspectors regarding the leadership behaviours demonstrated by the principals?
The following two null hypotheses were tested in the study:
H0 There is no relationship between instructional leadership of the principals and academic performance of learners as perceived by the teachers H0 There is no significant difference in principal’s instructional leadership behaviour as perceived by teachers and inspectors.
A questionnaire will be used based on themes that will lead to the understanding of the objective of the research, which is to evaluate whether instructional leadership exists in schools and what impact it has on academic achievement of the learners.
1.5 Aims and goals of the research • To explore what a strategic, effective leader is and to compare it against the leadership in the identified Omaheke schools • To investigate whether the principals in the associated schools demonstrate certain leadership behaviours that are identified with high performing schools and those principals seen as engaging in instructional leadership • To explore the effects of leadership on the academic performance of schools in the Omaheke Educational Region.
• To investigate what theoretical and practical training the principals of schools underwent that empowered them to be effective leaders in the schools.
• To provide reference material to be used by the Ministry of Education officials concerning leadership in schools.
1.6 Value of the study
The researcher speculates that this study will help to:
• Show that performance in schools can be an indicator of the type of school leadership and that results can be improved if the principals in those schools are engaging in instructional leadership.
• Determine the type of training the current leaders in schools underwent and to find out whether it is adequate and beneficial to the individual and the institution.
• Enable leadership within the schools to assess themselves whether they are strategic and effective leaders or not and if not to try and change for the benefit of the school.
• Give ministerial authorities the realisation that leadership and in-service training for current and aspiring principals is needed for effective schools.
1.7 Research Design and Methodology The research is empirical by nature and the survey method has been seen to be more appropriate for this research as the primary aim of the study is to evaluate the leadership at the school and how this leadership impacts the end results of the school.
Saunders, Lewis, and Thornhill (2003:92) state that the survey is popular as it allows the collection of a large amount of data from a sizeable population in a highly economical way and often obtained by using data collection techniques of questionnaires and or structured interviews. The poor performing secondary schools in Omaheke Region will be selected to be part of the survey. A more generic topic of evaluating the impact of leadership on academic performance is chosen. It is unlikely that the entire population of the non performing schools would be covered.
The research will be concentrated on the three lowest performing schools which represent 30% of the ten secondary schools in the region.
Probability sampling is most commonly associated with survey-based research and implies that the chance or probability of each case that is selected from the population is known and is usually equal for all cases.
The targeted schools do not have more than 15 teachers on their roll and the target is to include all the teachers in the survey. Due to possible unforeseen circumstances, it will be appropriate to have at least 10 teachers including the principal and management of the school to be part of the survey. There will be an extra questionnaire to be completed by the education officer/s (inspectors) at the Ministry of Education head office, so as to get a broader picture of the problem.
As the survey will be enormous work, it will not include the whole school community and will only concentrate on the teachers as the objective is to survey the leadership of the principal as perceived by the teaching staff and the inspectors.
As this research topic can be perceived as sensitive in nature, the researcher foresees a problem of questionnaires not being completed or returned and so opt to be physically at the school for circulation and collection of questionnaires.
The questionnaire was found to be the most appropriate technique to use for the purpose of this particular survey in order to achieve the primary objectives of the research, namely to evaluate the strategic leadership in schools and its contribution to academic performance. The choice of a questionnaire is based on the argument of Saunders et al., (2003:281) who admit that questionnaires can be useful in explanatory or analytic research, as it will enable the researcher to examine and explain relationships between variables, in particular cause-and-effect relationships. The teachers are literate so they can read and answer questions.
The choice of analysis is driven by the research objectives, research purpose, research questions/hypothesis, and type of data collected. The mixed model research will be used, meaning that quantitative analyses of qualitative data will be conducted.
Johnson and Christensen (2004:425) call it “quantitizing data”. Quantitising data involves converting qualitative data into numerical codes and then using statistical analysis techniques with the data.
1.8 The structure of the thesis
Chapter two presents the overview of the literature review on leadership with particular reference to the leadership in schools. The capabilities of a strategic leader and specifically the behaviours that will make the principal, as a strategic leader effective will be highlighted. It will be interesting to show the functions of a principal as set out by the Ministry of Education in Namibia.
Chapter three explains, in detail, the methodology as employed in the research in the quest of trying to find a solution to the identified problem.
Chapter four focuses on the presentation of the results and discussions of the findings.
Finally, chapter five briefly provides the conclusion and recommendations that can be assessed for possible implementation.
1.9 Conclusion The chapter gave a historical background of the experienced problem in Omaheke region that prompted the researcher to undertake this research. Although the leadership in schools is known to be broad, the researcher decided to focus on the leadership of the principal and its contribution to academic performance.
It is envisaged that the study comes up with findings and recommendations that can contribute towards the strategic leadership that leads to strategically focused schools that are profitable to all members involved and the nation as a whole.
2.1 Introduction The previous chapter conceptualised the study, while clarifying the research problem.
Aims, goals and value of the study were covered with a short indication of the structure of the study, which was followed by this literature review.
The literature review is a crucial portion of the research process and its purpose is to provide a context for the study. Literature review systematically summarises past empirical research or evaluation studies, or both, on a specific topic (Lauer 2006:83).
Badenhorst (2007) is of the opinion that, it is at the literature review that you unpack the key concepts and theory, and discuss the conceptual framework of the study.
Tuckman (as cited by Mushaandja, 1996) argues that, a literature review should reflect the major variables of the study. It should be selective, systematically organised, and structured so that the important information about the problem being studied might not be lost in the vastness of literature.
There is a vast amount of literature on the topic of leadership in general, while there is less on strategic leadership and specifically on strategic leadership in schools.
Literature covering this topic is mostly international, while there is a shortage of local material.
The literature review in this study will be organised in sections as follows: