Mr Mweli – Director-General of the Department of Basic Education
Mr Ari Pokka - ICP (International Confederation of Principals) president, (Finland)
Ms Thembi Ndlovu – South African Principals’ Association President
Ms Fiona Forbes - ICP president-elect, (Australia)
Mr Samuel Ofori-Adjei ACP President (Ghana)
The organising committee under the leadership of Alta van Heerden
Principals from Africa and the world
National, provincial and district officials
Ladies and gentlemen
It is my singular honour and indeed a privilege to address the 9th Biennial Conference of the African Confederation of Principals. We are a fortunate generation in that we are hosting this important conference of education leaders from around the world for the second time after hosting it for the first time in the year 2000.
This conference presents a unique opportunity for those at the apex of educational management to introspect while simultaneously sharing best practises in the arena of education leadership. Researchers have long argued that Principals’ Conferences, Institutes and professional communities are the intellectual “Glue” for system-wide improvement. It is therefore within this context that we hold 9th Biennial Conference of the African Confederation of Principals. It is my sincere hope that our engagements will be intellectually stimulating, robust and honest.
The theme of this conference is about: “Educating Africa’s Children: Opening the Gateway to Global Citizenship.”
Programme Director; for me this theme is asking us about what kind of a principal we need in the 21st century environment which as we know is dominated by the ICTs (Information Communication Technologies). It says, how can we as principals ensure that the African child understand not just the concept of globalisation but has an acute understanding of its markers, drivers and enablers. We must therefore focus our attention on the new principal that we need so that we all can become agents and enablers of a globalised world. We must understand that today’s world is complex, interdependent and driven by rapid development of technology. Are our schools positioned for rapid changes in technology? Are our principals’ agents of change or just run-of-the-mill school managers of the 20th century education system that no longer exist?
Programme Director; allow me to delve into the kind of principals that our 21st century schools require in-order to remain relevant. In their seminal work titled, “Principal Leadership and School Performance: An Integration of Transformational and Instructional Leadership” Helen M. Marks et al argue that when transformational and shared instructional leadership coexist in an integrated form of leadership, the influence on school performance, measured by the quality of its pedagogy and the achievement of its students, is substantial. In their view, they argue that transformational leadership is a necessary but insufficient condition for instructional leadership. The analysis is grounded in two conceptions of leadership — transformational and instructional. Effective instructional leaders must, in other words, concurs a group of researchers, Elaine Fink et al: “create both intellectual capital and social capital within their organizations.”
Programme Director; it seems to me there is merit in emphasising the instructional role of principals within a transformative paradigm. Today’s principals are required to go beyond the run-of-the-mill management activities such as scheduling, reporting, handling relations with parents and community, dealing with the multiple crises and special situations. These activities are inevitable in a school environment.
However, what the 21st century schools require is an academic leader with impeccable administrative capabilities. The new principals must understand the nexus between two conceptions of leadership—transformational and instructional. The new principal must avoid the historical trap of swings and roundabouts – what we gain from running schools effectively (normative management), we lose on the instructional side (effective curriculum delivery). The principal also needs special capabilities for leadership including knowing individual teachers well enough to suggest particular ways of improving particular aspects of their teaching performance, creating a culture in which deep knowledge of instruction and learning serves as the foundation for an interdependent professional community.” (E Fink, LB Resnick - Phi Delta Kappan, Developing Principals as Instructional Leaders, 2001)
Professor of Cognition and Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, Prof Howard Gardner talks of “Five Minds for the Future” that principals must be aware of and cultivate in the young minds. These five minds are what the 21st century learner possess and it require principals to be at a certain level of intellectual knowledge to help these minds to navigate the world of learning. These five minds are:
- The disciplinary mind – mastery of major schools of thought and of at least one professional craft;
- The synthesizing mind – ability to integrate ideas from different disciplines or spheres into a coherent whole and to communicate that integration to others;
- The creating mind – capacity to uncover & clarify new problems, questions and phenomena;
- The respectful mind – awareness of and appreciation for differences among human beings; and
- The ethical mind – fulfilment of one’s responsibilities as a worker and a citizen.
Gardner draws from a wealth of diverse examples to illuminate these ideas, designed to inspire lifelong learning and also to provide valuable insights for those charged with training and developing organizational leaders. Programme Director; we need to ask if we are ready as educational managers to help the 21st century learner as illustrated by Professor Gardner?
The 21st century school environment does not only require a paradigm shift in leadership but a whole new set of competencies. These new competencies are necessary for the globalised world which our schools find themselves in. The school principals in particular and teaching community in general must aim to instil in themselves these new competencies so that they can be able through teaching to meet the demands of the new 21st century learners. Researchers have thought long and hard about type and needs of the 21st century learners. The emerging consensus is that these new learners can be grouped into three interrelated categories.
These three groups are as follows:
- Civic Literacy, Global Awareness and Cross Cultural Skills;
- Critical and Inventive Thinking;
- Communication, Collaboration and Information Skills.
As the demand and needs of the new learner grow exponentially, so it is the expectation that our school principals must rise to the challenge taking their schools and teachers along with them to the new brave world. Conversely, the demand for new competencies among the professional community of school managers/principals is growing. A major challenge within education systems is finding competent leaders and managers.
The demands on school management have changed, with emphasis on managing learning in a safe, diverse, integrated, and challenging, school environments appropriate to a 21st century environments. We need principals with the ability to interpret the demands of their jobs and determine how they will perform this within the context of international development. The principals need to tap into the full potential of themselves and the rest of the school community, while seeing their job within the context of improving teaching and learning in the school.
There is no doubt that the current changes in our global village society pose enormous challenges to school leadership and management. Regardless of these many challenges experienced in our schools today, we do have those visionary and proactive principals who are able to rise above every obstacle and turn around our schools to become what they ought to be.
In South Africa, we are seized with the kind of principals we would love to see taking our schools to the 21st century. In this regard, we are deliberately putting programmes in place to enhance the competency and the professionalization of principals.
Firstly, we promulgated the South African Standard for Principalship in line with international practice, which will assist in the identification of differentiated development needs for the professionalisation and development of the role of principal and other school leaders. These are:
- The enhancement of the skills and competencies of principals in post;
- The improvement of the recruitment and selection procedures to principals;
- The induction of newly appointed principals;
- The professional preparation for principals and the enhancement of the skills and,
- Attributes and competencies of deputies and middle managers.
The standard will also:
- Serve as a template against which professional leadership and management development needs may be addressed; and
- Inform better recruitment and selection procedures.
Other programmes as determined by the country’s National Development Plan include:
- The implementation of an entry qualification for principals at exit level 7 as an Advanced Diploma in leadership and Management;
- A change in appointment processes to ensure that appropriately qualified and competent principals are appointed;
- The introduction of competency assessments to determine the suitability of the applicants and identify the areas in which they would need development and support.
I wish you well in your deliberations. I hope you would pay special attention to the efforts of narrowing the knowledge gap between the developed and the developing worlds.
I thank you.