An investigation into the relationship between educational leadership and learners’ performance in the Kavango region, Namibia
Thesis (MEd)--Stellenbosch University, 2015.
ENGLISH ABSTRACT: In Namibia, the national Grade 12 academic performance for the Namibian Senior Secondary Certificate (NSSC) ordinary and higher levels examination has declined from 2011 to 2013. Of the 58 785 full-time candidates who wrote the Grade 12 national examination during the period of 2011 to 2013, only 4 610 candidates qualified for access to higher education (Ministry of Education [MoE], 2013e). A similar situation prevails in the Kavango Region, where the academic performance of Grade 12 learners has declined steadily between 2011 and 2013, from a 30% pass rate to 24.4% according to the regional statistics for the Kavango Region of the Directorate of National Examination and Assessment [DNEA] (MoE, 2013d). Against this backdrop, and by exploring the practices of four secondary school principals, this study investigates the relationship between school leadership and learners’ academic performance at four secondary schools in the Rundu Circuit in the Kavango Region. The objective of the study was to gain an understanding of whether, and how, school leadership contributes to the learners’ academic performance in school. The study employed a qualitative interpretive research method. Data was constructed through semi-structured interviews, observations and document analysis. Primarily, the study found inconsistencies between how principals understood their leadership and management roles, and what they actually practised. It would appear that, central to this gap between what was understood conceptually and what actually was implemented was the relationship that the principal had with his or her relevant staff members and, in turn, the types of relationships that existed among staff members. To this end it was found that poor staff relationships, which either emanated from poor leadership, or led to poor leadership, had a direct effect on the academic performance of learners. Concomitantly, poor leadership, poor staff relationships, as well as the poor academic performance of learners, affected the morale and commitment of both educators and the principal. Underlying the issue of poor relationships, the study brought into stark focus a concern that continues to challenge schools, not only in the Kavango Region, but in the whole of Namibia, namely the issue of unqualified and under-qualified educators. The latter, together with poor learner commitment, which is exacerbated by inadequate and questionable parental support, has contributed to the current situation of a dismally poor Grade 12 success rate, and an equally dismal number of learners who actually qualify to access higher education. The study found that the absence of leadership and management training for principals plays a significant role in their (in)-capacity to lead and manage schools. The unpreparedness for managing the school as an organisation, which includes the critical management of staff and learners, has had serious implications for the type of teaching and learning that takes place in the four schools. The poor state of the Grade 12 learner results is just one indicator that the issue of inadequate leadership skills needs to be addressed by the Namibian Ministry of Education. As such, the study recommends that, if the education ministry wishes to address the academic performance of learners, it would need to make provision for in-service leadership training for school principals.