n South African Journal of Education - Professionalising principalship in South Africa

Volume 27, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 0256-0100
  • E-ISSN: 2076-3433



At the present juncture, South Africa is one of the few countries that do not require a compulsory and specific qualification for principalship. This particular need has been part of a discussion among educational leaders for the past thirty to forty years. Despite a ll the laudable efforts to redesign the landscape of Educational Leadership and Management (ELM) in South Africa, a major historical shortcoming has still been neglected, namely, lack of training of school principals to a national professional standard. After the first democratic elections in 1994, a report by the committee, which had reviewed the organization, governance, and fun ding of schools, referred for the first time in 1995 to the development of an Education Management Training Institute (EMTI). The Department of Education assigned a task team to develop a capacity-building programme for Education Leadership and Management (ELM) to implement the directives from policy documents. A series of drafts of a Policy Framework for ELM was published during 2003/4 as a framework and guide for the development of ELM to ensure excellence throughout the education system. A particular aspect which was emphasised in this Policy Framework was the professionalisation of ELM. The Department of Education responded by introducing a National Qualification for School Leadership in the form of an Advanced Certificate in Education. This was the first concrete step towards implementing a compulsory professional qualification for principalship without which no educator would be eligible for appointment to the post of fir st-time principal. Although the development of the envisaged programme presents vital challenges for the long and short term, principalship in South Africa is on its way to becoming a fully fledged profession with a unique career path.

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