Education policy and social justice: the experience of South African school principals

Turnbull, Margaret (2013) Education policy and social justice: the experience of South African school principals. EdD thesis, University of Lincoln.

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Item Type:Thesis (EdD)
Item Status:Live Archive


The purpose of this research is to gain insight into how school principals make sense of and promote social justice in their schools in South Africa. Underpinned by the ontological view that knowledge of the world comes from many perspectives, and set within the interpretive, constructionist paradigms, this qualitative study explores seven principals’ attempts to promote social justice. The data was gathered using semi-structured interviews with principals and staff members from schools in both the public and independent sectors. The findings reveal the principals’ interpretation of social justice. They also identify those frameworks of leadership which when applied by principals,appear to support social justice better. The thesis argues that principals’ efforts to promote social justice are constrained by government policies and further compounded by the lack of capacity, in terms of individuals’ ability and understanding, at a National or Provincial level. It is also argued that the community within which the school is positioned significantly influences the principals’ attempts to promote social justice. It was also evident that the principals have interpreted and reinterpreted social and cultural justice in light of the context within which their school is positioned. The conclusion is that despite principals’ attempts to promote social justice, both the school context and external political and economic factors significantly constrain their success. Hence education in South Africa continues to struggle to deliver social justice to the majority of learners. This research contributes to the limited literature on leadership in So uth Africa and provides a voice for school leaders to identify the reality they face, rather than expressing the rhetoric of the government.

Keywords:social justice, cultural justice, associational justice, principals, Leadership, bmjindex
Subjects:X Education > X300 Academic studies in Education
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Education
ID Code:12702
Deposited On:16 Dec 2013 15:24

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