P. Balkrishen, R. Mestry

University of Johannesburg (SOUTH AFRICA)
Improving the quality of Further Education and Training (FET) colleges in South Africa, and consequently student achievement, is essential if FET colleges are to meet the demands of skilling the youth for employment. Effective leadership is regarded as essential for successful student achievement at all educational institutions, including FET colleges. The scarcity of empirical data on educational leadership in FET colleges in South Africa is especially disconcerting in view of the strategic importance of the sector and the poor performance of FET colleges. Considering that the research on educational leadership relates largely to schools in urban, Western contexts, this study sought to address that part of the research gap which explores leadership in FET colleges in Mpumalanga province, South Africa. Ultimately, the aim of this study is to identify, based on the perceptions of staff, what are the core leadership roles and practices of campus managers that can improve student achievement in FET colleges in South Africa.

The quantitative research approach led to a survey design being used with the data collected through the use of structured questionnaires. Three FET colleges from the Mpumalanga province in South Africa, both urban and rural, were chosen for the study. A total of 357 academic staff members participated in the study. Quantitative analysis techniques such as t-tests, analysis of variance (ANOVA) and Pearson chi square tests were applied to interpret the data gathered.

Using the multiple linear regression model, the study found that effective leadership in an FET college for influencing student achievement is founded on four factors, namely, managing the instructional programme, developing an organisational culture, setting direction and developing people, which are all geared to improving student academic performance. The study further identified ten sub-factors for each of the four leadership factors which were then ranked in order of importance according to the perceptions of the respondents. Most campus managers are extremely committed and are always busy but their focus may not be on their core business of leading teaching and learning and student achievement. Knowledge of the four categories of leadership and the various sub-factors could empower campus managers in their leadership role and consequently improve student achievement.