26 SES 03 B, Crossing Perspectives – International Insights into Educational Leadership
The Kenyan education system experienced a surge in enrollment when the government reintroduced free primary education in 2007. As enrollment increased the education system struggled to maintain quality (Republic of Kenya, 2008; Mugo et al 2016). Government policy focused on teacher training, reducing class sizes, curriculum reform, and information technology (Republic of Kenya 2012a; Republic of Kenya 2012b; Republic of Kenya 2014). Despite these efforts, basic educational competencies remained well below adequate levels and there was no significant improvement in learning outcomes (UWEZO 2014).
The literature suggests that head teachers are a key component of systemic educational reform (Chapman, 1994; De Grauwe, 2001; Vespoor, 2008; Bruns et al, 2011). The quality education challenge cannot be solved only at the national level; it requires capable education leaders on the ground (De Grauwe, 2001; Vespoor, 2008). Chapman (1994) described head teachers as, “powerful gatekeepers, mediating the impact of central Ministry of Education policies on their school, shaping the educational and social transactions within the school, and interpreting school priorities and activities to the local community.” (p. 401).With the growing emphasis on decentralization of decision making and greater accountability to the school and community level, the importance of head teachers is likely to grow (Glassman and Sullivan 2008; Vespoor 2008).
Despite the fundamental role head teacher’s play, school leadership in less developed countries, has received only limited attention from researchers. Available studies of educational leadership within less developed countries indicate that head teachers operate under different role expectations from those in more developed countries (Brown & Conrad 2007; Oplatka 2004). In a review of the literature on the context and characteristics of school leadership in poor/developing countries, Oplatka (2004) found common themes related to “limited autonomy, autocratic leadership style, summative evaluation, low degree of change initiation, and lack of instructional leadership functions” (p 427). In Trinidad and Tobago Brown and Conrad (2007) found that “too many senior officers see the role of principals and teachers not in terms of educating children but in terms of following the mandates of the MOE.” (p. 189). Harber and Davies (1997) argue that “the contextual realities of schools in developing countries mean there is a serious mismatch between the prescribed roles for headteachers and the actual job of headteacher” (p. 60). For leaders to be successful they must understand the people they lead and the complex environment within which they function.
Oplatka (2004) and Brown & Conrad (2007) highlight how the sociocultural and policy context in which head teachers work shape what they do in their schools. Descriptions of the context in which primary school head teachers operate can provide important insights into head teacher behavior, leadership effectiveness, and leadership training and development. Lungu (1983) noted, “…most theorising in administrative sciences has been based on the experiences of European and North American organisations, and almost nothing has been done in African settings, let alone African educational organisations. What these gaps portend for training programmes in Africa is that new, original thinking and research will be required.” (p. 90). Therefore, this study seeks to understand the sociocultural and policy context within which head teachers in Kenya work and what these headteachers actually do in their schools. This study has two main objectives: Examine the contextual realities of primary school leadership in Kenya, and highlight the tasks performed by primary school head teachers. The study asks:
What role does the government expect head teachers to play?
What skills and competencies are implied by government policy documents?
In view of government requirements/expectations, what do primary school head teachers do?
The first part of this study uses qualitative document analysis to systematically analyze the contents of key government policy documents. The objective is to ensure consistent analysis of government policies. Sets of questions were developed to guide the analysis throughout the process. The government policy documents include, Sessional Paper No. 1 of 2005; The Constitution of Kenya 2010; Sessional Paper No. 14 of 2012; Teachers Service Commission Act 2012; Basic Education Act, 2013; National Education Sector Plan 2013-2018. The second part of the study used data from the Kenya 2012 Snapshot of School Management Effectiveness (SSME) data collected by the Ministry of Education and RTI International. This will be a descriptive analysis of SSME data. The SSME was developed under the USAID EdData II project to evaluate school management and governance factors that are strongly associated with school effectiveness and learning achievement. The data is designed to let school leaders learn what is currently going on in their schools. Management data collected by the SSME include “pedagogical approaches used; time on task; interactions among students, teachers, administrators, district officials, and parents; record keeping; discipline; availability and condition of school infrastructure; availability of pedagogical materials; and safety. SSME data are collected via direct classroom and school observation; student assessments; and interviews with parents, teachers, principals, and parents.” (RTI). The data used in this paper is from the Head Teacher/Principal Questionnaire administered to the head teacher in each school visited. The sample includes 8, 316 head teachers. The survey sought to determine which classes head teachers teach, how many hours they teach, how often they provided instructional support for teachers, who was responsible for teacher observations, etc.
Most research and literature on leadership preparation and development is mostly based on the developed world (Harber and Davies, 1997; Lungu, 1983) As countries embark on training and development of school leaders it is important to establish what needs stem from the work they do. This paper provides a starting point to identify the gap in the expectations and practice of primary school leadership.
Brown L., & Conrad D.A. (2007) School Leadership in Trinidad and Tobago: The Challenge of Context, Comparative Education Review, 51(2),181-201. Bruns, B., Filmer, D., & Patrinos, H. A. (2011) Making schools work: New evidence on accountability reforms. Washington, D.C.: The World Bank. Chapman, D. W. & Burchfield, S. A. (1994) How headmasters perceive their role: a case study in Botswana, International Review of Education, 40(6), 401–419. De Grauwe, A. (2001) School Supervision in Four African Countries. Paris: UNESCO/International Institute for Educational Planning. Glassman, D., and Sullivan, P. (2008) Governance, Management, and Accountability in Secondary Education in Sub-Saharan Africa. Secondary Education in Africa (SEIA) Thematic Study No. 3. World Bank, Washington, DC. Harber, C. and Davies, L. (1997). School Management and Effectiveness in Developing Countries. London: Cassell. Lungu, G.F., (1983). Some critical issues in the training of educational administrators for developing countries of Africa. International Journal of Educational Development 3 (1), 85–96. Mugo, J. B., Moyi, P. M. & Kiminza, O. (2016). The Challenge of Access, Quality and Equity: Education in Kenya, 1963 to 2015. In I. I. Munene & S. Ruto (Eds.), Achieving Education for All: Dilemmas in System-Wide Reforms and Learning Outcomes in Africa. Lexington Books Oplatka I. (2004) The principalship in developing countries: context, characteristics and reality, Comparative Education, 40(3), 427-448. Republic of Kenya. (2014). National Education Sector Plan. Volume One: Basic Education Programme Rationale and Approach 2013/2014 – 2017/2018. Nairobi: Government Printer. Republic of Kenya (2008) The Development of Education: National Education Sector Report 2008. Nairobi: Government Printer. Republic of Kenya (2012a) Towards a Globally Competitive Quality Education for Sustainable Development. Report of the Taskforce on the Re-alignment of the Education Sector to the Constitution of Kenya 2010. Nairobi: Ministry of Education. Republic of Kenya. (2012b). Sessional Paper number 14 of 2012 on Reforming Education and Training Sectors RTI https://www.eddataglobal.org/management/index.cfm Uwezo (2014) Are Our Children Learning? Literacy and Numeracy in Kenya Nairobi: Twaweza East Africa Vespoor, A.M. (2008) At the crossroads: Choices for secondary education in sub-Saharan Africa. The World Bank, Washington, DC.
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