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Title: School leaders as core actors in educational improvement : exploring headteachers' experiences and perceptions of school leadership in Malawi
Author: Maulidi, Felix Kondwani
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of Aberdeen
Date of Award: 2012
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Effective school leadership has become one of the top priorities in education policy agendas in many countries. This is due to the suggestions that effective school leadership is fundamental to school success. However, an examination of the extant literature shows that school leadership in most African countries is given less attention (Bush & Oduro, 2006; Mulkeen et al, 2007). Malawi is one of the African countries where school leadership is less pronounced. On the whole, little or no research exists on school leadership in Malawi. The current study was therefore aimed at exploring and understanding the experiences and perceptions of school leaders, particularly secondary school headteachers, in Malawi. It was anticipated that knowledge of the headship experiences and perceptions would help to ascertain how the headteachers operate,how they can be supported and how the headship can be strengthened to significantly contribute to improving the quality of educationin Malawi. This qualitative study was conducted in the Central West Educational Division and 12 headteachers constituted the sample. The headteachers‟accounts were captured via semi-structured interviews. The headteachers‟accounts were analysed case by case and the analysis waslargely informed by an Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA). IPA is one of the contemporary qualitative phenomenologically based research approaches which explore how people ascribe meaning to their own experiences. It offers both a methodological and an analytical approach oriented towards exploring and understanding the experience of a particular phenomenon. The IPA analysis allowed the researcher to capture both the explicit and implicit dimensions of the headteachers‟ narratives. The study shows that the headteachers‟role has become more complex and the range of tasks they are required to undertake has increasedsignificantly. While the demands placed on the headship have changed, the headteachers are ill-prepared and inadequately supported to meet those demands. The study reveals that headship professional preparation and development requires more attention. The current professional preparation and development programmes for headship lack rigourin that they are not coherently organised,practice-oriented,context-sensitive and there is an apparent misalignment between the programmes‟ content and the headteachers‟ professional needs. The study also observed limitations in the recruitment and deployment procedures of headteachers. Structurally, the findings suggest that the education systemis generallyconstrictive and rigidsuch that it does not give schools the autonomy to take important pragmatic decisions. Furthermore, the study shows that leading and managing schools using the values inherent in the indegenous knowledge systems like „umunthu/ubuntu philosophy‟ can enhance the effectiveness of headship in Malawi. Policy and practice implications and recommendations on how the headship can be supported and strengthened are discussed. The study also makes suggestions regarding further research on the role of school leadership in Malawi.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Educational leadership