This report offers an extensive comparative review of school leadership in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). It examines and presents evidence from selected educational contexts, to educators, policymakers and other stakeholders interested in successful schools.
Effective school leaders are central to school performance, as they provide direction, motivation and support to teachers, administrators and students, in order to improve education service delivery and learning outcomes. However, this review shows that most SSA countries have no adequate policies to ensure that school principals become effective instructional leaders.
Key challenges in school leadership include inadequate preparation and limited professional development opportunities; limited ICT skills for transformative teaching and learning; corruption, which denies students learning resources; and gender inequality. In many SSA countries, teaching experience remains the main path to principalship; this means that many school heads are ill-prepared to meet the challenges posed by the changing nature of their job.Besides, the recruitment of school leaders is unsystematic and not always based on professional competence. Mechanisms for recruitment include promotion by seniority, rewarding political allegiance, corruption, nepotism and favouritism.
The available literature shows that most countries have introduced governance reforms, including decentralized school models, that require principals to have appropriate skills and knowledge in financial management, instructional leadership and people management in order to meet the challenge of demanding school contexts. However, strategies for training, support and professional development of school leaders remain inadequate.
Hence, the demand for high-quality learning outcomes, combined with additional responsibilities for human and financial management, put pressure on poorly trained school leaders. To address this challenge, most SSA governments should strengthen their policies on school leadership. Education authorities need to identify the school leadership responsibilities that are most effective in improving student learning. Governments should increase resources for training, so that current and future principals can develop relevant skills and attitudes foreffective instructional leadership. Policymakers should make the principals’ role more attractive by improving status and remuneration to attract high-performing leaders.
This regional review should help policymakers across the region make the most of their professional development resources, based on evidence of effectiveness.
UNESCO Education Sector , 2016. 111-136 p.
Symposium on Education Policies “Leading better learning: School leadership and quality in the Education 2030 Agenda” – Regional reviews of policies and practices on school leadership, 18-20 January 2016, UNESCO, Paris, France