OBSTACLES ENCOUNTERED IN IDENTIFYING AND DEVELOPING LEARNER LEADERSHIP IN PRIMARY SCHOOLS IN SOUTH AFRICA
Worldwide educational institutions face the vexing challenge of creating more opportunities for leadership development of young preadolescents with a view of an eventual career success. The result is that each primary school in South Africa uses its own leader identification procedure and/ or process according to own requirements and criteria. A lot of time and energy are spent on identifying leaders, but the development of the leadership abilities of the preadolescents lags far behind.
The purpose of this study is to determine the perception of parents and learners regarding the importance of leadership development and the impact of the identification process on learners.
In South Africa primary schools have the habit of pressurizing learners into attending leadership camps where the learners must prove themselves and impress fellow learners in order to obtain sufficient votes from them and their teachers’. Furthermore learners are pressured to excel in all activities to have the possibility of being elected as a leader. Pressure on leaners also comes from the parents for the sake of the prestige associated with leadership. Learners also put pressure on themselves for fear of humiliation and disappointing their parents. In this way only a small percentage of grade 6 learners are appointed as so called leaders who possess the right attributes and who then receive special treatment to be present and future leaders. The non-selected learners are then not developed to their full potential only because they are not given the opportunity. This system is justifiably not in the interest of the remaining majority as, despite the abundance of their talents they are considered mere followers. Leadership development in primary schools in South Africa is therefore not accessible to the maximum number of learners within the school system. In the present educational system little or no training of the individual in the responsible task of leadership is taking place. Leadership as part of general development of the child is neglected.
All learners have the same right to education therefore all primary schools in South Africa must create the same opportunities, based on the same method so that all leaners can develop their full leadership potential- with the realization that leadership development is not an instant process. Adolescence (boys 14 to21 years and girls 12 to 21 years) is the period in which leadership potential should start. This realizes the opportunity to develop the adolescent to his full leadership potential. Leadership development should therefore be a continuous process during the learner’s school education.
A case study based on observation, experience and social realities in five primary schools in South Africa, Gauteng, Johannesburg-North area was selected. Own experiences and experience with investigations regarding social realities was supported with literature studies and augmented with quantitative techniques (questionnaires) to determine the perceptions and sentiments and experiences of learners and parents.
Investigation of the research questions confirms that 87.3% of parents and guardians consider leadership development in primary schools as important to very important. In reaction on the question whether all leaners should be involved in the leadership program 83.2% replied yes and only 15.2% no.