n Journal of Educational Studies - The fault-lines in South African school governance : policy or practice?




There has been debate on the effectiveness of school governance in advancing the aims of democracy and social justice in schools. Blame has been directed firstly at the way policy has been articulated and implemented and, secondly, on governors themselves. In this paper, I make the case that both arguments hold an element of truth and that is because the model of school governance current in South Africa tries to bridge both the imperatives of centralized policy making with participatory democracy. Furthermore, it will be argued that a key mediator between these opposing pulls on decision-making in schools is the school principal, since she represents both the interests of the Department of Education (DoE) and the School Governing Body (SGB). An important element in the success of school governance, therefore, is in understanding the changing role of the principal, as a facilitator rather than a manager.


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