THE HISTORIC SCHOOLS AND THEIR INFLUENCE: WOMEN IN SCHOOL LEADERSHIP UPHOLDING THE LEGACY
The transition to democracy in South Africa in 1994 was the result of a protracted liberation struggle. It is notable that many of the leaders in the fight against Apartheid received their education from a group of schools which are now part of the Historical Schools Restoration Project (HSRP). This study investigated the nature and approach to education that these leaders encountered, the historical evolution of the schools and their current position. Data were collected through a qualitative research paradigm and from an historical design perspective. The influence of historical connectedness, instructional leadership practices and curriculum design challenges are the main themes that emerged from this study.
The research sites of the study are schools which form part of the HSRP. Established in 2008, the HSRP seeks to address the physical and educational needs of nine schools which “contributed richly to the education of Black South Africans prior to the negative impact of Bantu Education. The schools, established by missionary organisations, are situated in rural regions of the Kwa-Zulu Natal Province and the Eastern Cape Province.
The aim of this paper was to present the significance of the schools both from an historical as well as a present day perspective. Furthermore, the paper will interrogate the juncture between historical connectness and the instructional leadership challenges associated with curriculum design.
Historical significance of the study:
Many of the leaders of South Africa’s liberation struggle are on the alumni roll of some of the schools. The most iconic of all is Nelson Mandela, the leader of South Africa’s struggle for political freedom, Nobel Peace Prize winner and the first democratically elected president of South Africa. In light of the contribution of these leaders, and others, the schools in the study are of enormous historical significance.
This was a qualitative research study that was nested within an historical design research methodology . Data were gathered by means of semi-structured interviews, focus groups and observations.
The schools experience an interface between the need to acknowledge their historical significance and the demands of a modern curriculum. The study suggests that this presents both tensions and opportunities. The opportunities are framed in the approach to instructional leadership and the subsequent implementation of the curriculum.
The schools are located in rural settings and are regarded as disadvantaged from a socio-economic perspective. The study revealed further that the influence of indigenous knowledge adds a rich ingredient to the curriculum design mix. This ingredient completes the cycle of interconnectedness of historical significance of yesteryear and present day education demands.
 Ndungane, N. (2008). Historic Schools Restoration Project. South Africa: Department of Arts and Culture. Page 1.
 Boyd, N. Historical Research Design: Definition, Advantages & Limitations .Available from http://education-portal.com/academy/lesson/historical-research-design-definition-advantages-limitations.html#lesson (Accessed 13 July 2014).