THE ROLE OF SCHOOL LEADERS IN MANAGING PUBLIC SCHOOLS DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC
University of Johannesburg (SOUTH AFRICA)
About this paper:
Conference name: 15th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 7-9 November, 2022
Location: Seville, Spain
Abstract:School leaders experienced challenges in leading and managing schools when the Covid-19 gripped the world. South Africa. In order to curb the spread of the virus, governments were compelled to intermittently close schools down. A combination of panic and obscure government legislation, compounded by lack of decision-making by the ministry of education resulted in many principals having to make key decisions on a daily basis to ensure that effective teaching and learning takes place amidst high teacher and learner absenteeism, lack of educational resources, and limited funding from government. Principals were compelled to keep schools open, whilst simultaneously creating an online environment to keep in touch with vulnerable learners and families. School leaders were uniquely positioned to guide families in supporting their children whilst at home during these unprecedented times. For school leaders, especially in townships and rural areas, it became difficult to continue face-to-face teaching. Virtual or online teaching across vast geographic areas where connectivity to internet was unavailable and parents were unable to acquire data for their children’s education. How can school leaders move to online teaching and learning if schools don’t have internet facilities and resources to procure devices and data?
Using a qualitative research approach, this study aimed to determine the challenges faced by school leaders in leading their schools during the COVID-19 pandemic. Five schools in the Mpumalanga Province of South Africa were selected through purposeful sampling to determine the experiences of principals in leading and managing schools during the pandemic. Data collected was logically organised into workable units to facilitate coding. Findings revealed that COVID-19 had serious implications for principal leadership: they were compelled to provide professional teacher development; raise funds to feed the majority of poor learners; and procure protective equipment and devices (computers, smart phones and whiteboards) so that effective teaching and learning can take place.
Keywords: COVID-19, leadership, technology, principals, schools.