Servant leadership, Accountability, School Performance, Faith-based schools, Challenging context


There is a rich body of academic research focused on servant leadership practices and school performance in South African public and faith-based schools. However, there is a notable gap in research on how these principals deal with the challenges of accountability for quality academic performance in challenging contexts. Consequently, this article aims to explore principals’ experience of servant leadership and accountability for improved school performance in challenging contexts in faith-based schools and identify mechanisms such schools apply to deal with these challenges. The study applied a qualitative research method with a case study design. The target population comprised six principals who were purposefully and conveniently selected from faith-based schools operating in challenging contexts in three rural provinces of South Africa. The researchers collected data using semi-structured interviews and followed a thematic approach. Key findings of the study indicated that principals of faith-based schools while practicing servant leadership apply the following principles to enhance school performance: Promoting common vision, enhancing collaborative climate through teamwork, inculcating positive relationships among teams, and practicing integrity and credibility as core values. Furthermore, participants further indicated that through the practices of these mechanisms they are able to respond to the call for accountability demands in challenging contexts.  The findings further revealed that faith-based school principals of the challenging contexts sometimes find it difficult to keep the momentum due to absenteeism, teachers’ retention, and lack of community involvement.


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