n Journal of Educational Studies - Improvement from within : the asset-based approach and rural school improvement - research

Volume 16 Number 2
  • ISSN : 1680-7456


Rural school reform in South Africa is largely driven by frameworks that are insufficiently sensitive to the realities of rurality. Twenty-three years into democracy, the government’s approach to the challenges of rural schools has been top down, excluding rural school stakeholders’ ideas and proposals regarding reform in these schools. This approach has failed. This article explores the application of an assetbased approach as an alternative for rural school improvement. It establishes the conditions that are conducive to the application of an asset-based approach and the factors hindering or enabling this approach. A qualitative case study employing discursive oriented interviews with the participants from a rural school was used. Data analysis followed inductive and deductive approaches. The findings suggest that the kind of leadership that exists in schools is critical for the application of the asset-based approach. From the findings, I conclude that rural schools cannot be distanced from their communities and the school and the community must be treated as one entity. Further, the empowerment of all potential contributors is crucial for the success of an asset-based approach. This empowerment requires schools to create space for every stakeholder to lead.

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