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South African Journal of Education

On-line version ISSN 2076-3433
Print version ISSN 0256-0100


SHULA, Melese; VAN WYK, Chris  and  HEYSTEK, Jan. School leadership practice at faith-based schools through a servant leadership lens. S. Afr. j. educ. [online]. 2022, vol.42, n.4, pp.1-10. ISSN 2076-3433.

In this article we report on an investigation into developing people and serving the community at faith-based schools through a servant leadership theory lens. Relevant literature was reviewed, and data were collected from school leaders by means of individual semi-structured interviews. Twelve participants were purposively selected from schools classified as top-performing schools in Gauteng, a province in South Africa. The interviews with these participants were audiotaped and transcribed, and the data analysed by using a process of abductive data analysis. The following measures were employed to review the servant leadership practices of faith-based leaders: being a serving leader, fostering people growth, and enhancing community relationships. Overall, principals were found to be effective leaders involved in a hands-on manner in both task-orientated and person-orientated activities. The servant leadership conception whereby "other" interests are regarded as more important than own interests serves as the basis for people development and there is a clear awareness that the enhancement of community relationships is a key facet in the communication that takes place between school principals and community members. The participants also showed concern for school-led development activities. It was evident that participating school staff were personally involved in facilitating learning activities such as collaborative workgroups and workshops and in creating a supporting structure for staff development. Apart from recommending that principals' leadership behaviour in the abovementioned areas is consolidated, we strongly support their involvement in related matters such as coping with contextual realities and enhancing community relationships. The improvement of community relationships is eventually a challenging task to be exercised by principals within the social, political and demographic contexts of faith-based schools.

Keywords : community service; contextual factors; developing people; faith-based schools; leadership practices; leadership style; leadership theories; servant leadership.

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