South African Journal of Education
On-line version ISSN 2076-3433
WILLIAMS, Clarence G. Distributed leadership in South African schools: possibilities and constraints. S. Afr. j. educ. [online]. 2011, vol.31, n.2, pp. 190-200. ISSN 2076-3433.
Before 1994 South African teachers in general, but more specifically women teachers, were effectively excluded from fulfilling meaningful roles as leaders at school level. Since 1994 the Department of Education has promulgated a number of policies in an attempt to actualize distributed leadership in South African schools. Fundamental to distributed leadership is the belief that all teachers have the right and potential to participate in decisions that affect their work. This article unpacks the theoretical underpinnings of the notion of distributed leadership and then investigates the numerous and diverse factors which have prevented the actualization of distributed leadership in South African schools. It is suggested that distributed leadership within schools can be actualized if the combined knowledge, expertise and experience of various role-players and stakeholders are harnessed in a collaborative fashion. While a healthy bout of idealism is required it is important that this idealism be moderated by the recognition of the realities of the South African situation.