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Newsletter: From Evidence to Action

SA needs principled principals

In a bid to improve leadership and deal with under-performance at some schools, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga has drafted the first specification of the norms and standards that should be adhered to by a South African school principal.

 Gazetted on Thursday, the regulations are expected to improve the training of serving principals and guide the department on recruiting new ones.

Education spokesman Elijah Mhlanga said: "The minister believes that lack of leadership is the main contributor to under-performance and dysfunctionality in schools. She strongly believes in effective school management as being the critical element in the success of schools.

"There are excellent and hard-working principals in the system. The ever-improving Grade 12 results are proof to that."

Titled "Enhancing the Image and Competency of School Principals", the 25-page document is open for public comment until December.

The draft regulations are intended to provide a clear description of what is required of a principal and the values he/she must embody.

Spokesman for the National Professional Teachers' Organisation of SA Basil Manuel said the idea of having legally defined standards for principals had been discussed for years.


The Motshekga draft stipulates that a principal:

  • Be expert on the national curriculum;
  • Monitor the performance of teachers;
  • Use technology to teach and assess pupils;
  • Be clear on the legal requirement for filling posts;
  • Maintain discipline and manage conflict in schools;
  • Ensure that school policy is in line with national law and policy;
  • Involve the community; and
  • Embrace the philosophy of ubuntu.

The SA Democratic Teachers Union did not respond to requests for comment.

 SA needs principled principals