Regenerative leadership practices in Kenyan schools

Wanjala, Christine N (2018) Regenerative leadership practices in Kenyan schools. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

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Abstract

This thesis examines leadership practices in which Kenyan school leaders have engaged to achieve sustainable students’ achievement (SSA). Educational reforms focusing on effective school leadership are of major concern in developing economies seeking to improve their educational systems and enhance educational performance. Kenya, a developing economy, considers education to be a powerful driver of development. One of its immediate education reforms accentuated in Kenya-vision 2030 is the introduction of an expanded institutional leadership framework for the effective delivery and management of education. However, socio-political challenges around educational management have been shown to greatly influence school leadership working environments. Accordingly, school leaders persistently struggle with the problem of fluctuations in students’ achievement and substantial disparities across schools. Reflecting on SDG4, Uwezo-Kenya report contends that learning outcomes are low and extremely inequitably distributed across geographical, socio-economical and school-type levels. While various factors (students, family, schools) inform student achievement trajectories, this thesis principally focuses on analysing how educational leadership, a school-level factor, is emerging in secondary schools in Kenya. The central aim of this research is to illuminate the school leadership contexts in which SSA might occur. To do so, the study adopted a sequential multi-strategy research design, with quantitative analysis of secondary data preceding the qualitative data collection and analysis. The study involved quantitative secondary analysis of students’ achievement data of 300 schools drawn from 3 Counties and qualitative in-depth analysis of data from 9 schools, 9 principals, 92 teachers (holding senior, middle and junior leadership positions), 6 Board of Management and Parents Association chairpersons, 5 Local Education Authority officers.

The overall finding is that context is a powerful mechanism influencing leadership practice in Kenyan schools. Existing contextual mechanisms have implications for school leaders’ actions and decisions, which in turn inform teaching and learning activities. Consequently, this thesis argues for regenerative leadership practices as an alternative approach that creates enabling school environments for SSA to occur in challenging contexts, like those faced in Kenya. Regenerative leadership practices that prioritise the building of school system resilience by recreating structures, cultures, capacities, relations and pedagogical practices might circumvent the socio-political challenges and nurture environments that enhance SSA.

This thesis contributes to existing knowledge by illuminating the importance of the context in educational leadership. Taking a systems perspective, the thesis demonstrates how socio-political demands inform school leadership actions and decisions, which in turn have indirect implications for teaching and learning activities, as well as SSA. Ultimately, justifying claims that encouraging schools to strive for SSA in Kenya and in other similar challenging contexts is complex and requires a comprehensive understanding of both structures and agency. This serves as a reasonable basis for questioning current assumptions about school leadership, which often partially focus on the principal’s agency while ignoring the wider socio-political environment. Secondly, this provides grounds to criticise the blind adoption of educational leadership models created in response to these assumptions, such as approaches to leadership preparation programmes in developing contexts. In response to these findings, this thesis proposes an alternative multiple level conceptual model of educational leadership that better responds to complex leadership and learning needs in challenging contexts. This model emphasises the reflexivity that school leaders need to manage, change and counter complex and often unpredictable socio-political factors to achieve sustainability.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of Education and Social Work > Education
Subjects: L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB2801 School administration and organisation > LB2969 Africa - British possessions (Former) > LB2970.K4 Kenya
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 28 Aug 2018 09:49
Last Modified: 28 Sep 2020 06:50
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/78367

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