The management and governance conundrum in South African public schools: principals’ perspectives




Public schools, School governance, School professional management, South African Schools Act


The introduction of school governing bodies (hereinafter SGBs) changed the roles and functions of principals dramatically when this new approach to school governance and professional management (referred to as a participatory decision-making approach) was activated when the South African Schools Act 84 of 1996 (hereinafter SASA) was implemented in January 1997. Consequently, the principal is no longer the only decision-maker in the school. The principal as the protagonist in school management and governance (implementing SGB policy) is the role-player most affected by the introduction of the participatory decision-making approach. In this article, we discuss principals’ perspectives regarding the shared participatory decision-making approach and the effects thereof on the relationship between the principal and the SGB. In this regard, it is important to note that the perceptions the two parties have of each other are established by the SGB’s encroachment on the professional management functions of the principal and vice versa. The research findings concluded that the relationship between the principal and the SGB is often a relationship characterised by tension, no trust and irrational actions by the SGB. The relationship is further influenced by the functionality or lack of functionality of SGBs as well as prevailing socio-economic conditions and SGB members’ levels of literacy. On the other hand, principals who do not adapt to participatory decision-making, and who still implement an assertive autocratic management approach, also contribute to a turbulent relationship.


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How to Cite

Kruger, J., Beckmann, J. ., & Du Plessis, A. (2022). The management and governance conundrum in South African public schools: principals’ perspectives. Perspectives in Education, 40(4), 312–324.



Research articles