South African Journal of Education

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Democracy, ethics and social justice: Implications for secondary school leadership in Kenya

Julius O. Jwan, Sella T. Kisaka


Principals in Kenyan schools are required to adopt democratic school leadership practises as part of the government policy. Adopting an interpretive case study, this paper set out to explore the application of democracy, ethics and social justice in secondary schools in Kenya. The study was in two phases. Phase one: twelve school principals were interviewed to explore their perspectives on democratic school leadership and establish the rationale for selecting two case schools. Phase two: an in-depth case study was conducted in the two schools. Interviews, focus group discussions, observation and informal conversations were used to generate data. The findings suggest that the principals, teachers and students each perceive and apply democratic school leadership differently based on individual as well as the school socio-cultural context. These contrasting views provide grounds for further discourse on the phenomenon. The paper recommends formal training for principals through in-service courses. Inclusion of democratic school leadership principles in teacher training programmes and an inculcation of democratic school leadership practices/values in the school curriculum for students to create a shared vision and understanding of these concepts for the success of the school.

Keywords: democracy; ethics; leadership practices; social justice
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