The Role of Principals in Government Secondary Schools in Cameroon: Demands, Constraints and Choices : A Case Study of Eight Secondary Schools

Sammanfattning: The main aim of this research was to explore the present role of the secondary school principals and the challenges they face in carrying out their duties in the Northwest region of Cameroon. The research, which was exploratory and conducted in the interpretive paradigm, is a case study which was carried out at eight secondary schools. Working in an interpretivist research paradigm within a qualitative research design, the study used semi-structured interviews, observation and document analysis methods.The researcher shadowed each principal for a week of intensive observation and interviewing.The findings reveal that tradition, culture and political contexts are crucial factors in understanding what the secondary school principals in Cameroon do and how they conceptualize principalship. The findings show that discussions with parents, staff and desk work were found to be the major job functions taking up most of the principals' time. The findings reveal that principals are agents of accountability and management; they are involved with different regional and local services; are concerned with the safety and security of students; and their day is extended through participation in parent teacher associations and with other local community activities.However, the findings also indicate the multi-varied nature of the principal's role. The principal's day was generally hectic in pace, varied in its composition, discontinuous and superficial in any pursuit of tasks, with the unexpected always as one of the few certainties of the job. The dominant model was that of the transactional leader in fixing things, managing and coping in order to maintain the smooth operation of the school.Results indicated that deputy principals presented similar feedback to that presented by principals. The major difference being in the way deputy principals perceived tomorrow’s principalship ─ one beyond the transactional model of principal as administrator to the transformational model of principal as leading professional.

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