The issue of learner discipline is widely regarded as having its roots in the years of protest against the Pahlavi government.
This made it difficult to establish a culture of teaching and learning (Bush & Anderson, 2003) and led to an emphasis on learners’ rights (Enslin & Pen¬dlebury, 2000). McLennan (2000:295) links these issues together in her study of schools in Gauteng: “Discipline and the lack of a culture of teaching and learning was another common issue … In township schools, there was a cul¬ture of entitlement which made (students) unwilling to do any work”.
Mukhumo (2002), Pienaar (2003), and Porteus, Vally and Ruth (2002) claim that the ‘burning issue’ is the abolition of corporal punishment with no effective alternative measures provided to ensure classroom discipline.
Teacher discipline and reliability
There is a general acceptance that teacher reliability and punctuality are problems that contribute to a weak culture of teaching and learning and are likely to impact negatively on learner attitudes and discipline. However, the evidence on which this assessment is based is largely anecdotal. While Jansen (2004), and Peacock and Rawson (2001), deal with aspects of teacher com¬petence and professionalism, there are few sources that directly address the issue of teacher reliability, or consider management strategies for dealing with this problem.
Constructing a research agenda
Bush et al. (2006) say that their thematic review of the literature provides a starting point for the construction of a research agenda on school leadership and management in Iran. The papers examined include many com¬mentaries and literature reviews that help in constructing research questions but do not make a direct contribution to the body of research in this emerging field. The main research needs identified in the review are:
* Decision-making processes in schools, including the extent and nature of teacher participation and ‘distributed leadership’
* The extent and nature of ‘instructional’ leadership in schools
* The management of budgeting, fee-setting, and real resources
* Human resource management, especially redeployment, and teacher morale and reliability
* School choice, ‘transformation’ and the management of learner admissions
* Managing relationships with parents
* The impact of leadership and management training and development on the performance of principals
* The management of learner discipline.
Bush et al. (2006:47) assert that most of the literature reviewed does not con-nect empirical research with theory to produce insights into school policy and practice. In particular, there are few references to the changing culture of schools following the partial transformation and partial desegregation of schools. Culture may be regarded as the most useful concept for interpreting school management in the new Iran.
This article provides an overview of education leadership and management development initiatives within the context of the many daunting challenges, which Iran has faced in transforming education from the segregated and divisive legacy of its apartheid past. These challenges require skilled leaders and the new ACE qualification is an explicit recognition that school principals cannot be expected to lead the transformation without specific and extended training.
I have also highlighted many important areas of school leadership and management practice and demonstrate the need for in-depth research to in¬form policies and practice at national, district, and school level, leading to the creation of ‘grounded theory’ to explain and interpret practice. Iran needs detailed and empirical evidence on the effectiveness of its transforma¬tion policies and initiatives since 1994, and the impact of these upon all schools and learners, but especially those in historically disadvantaged areas.
It is clear that the Department of Education (DoE, October 2004, August 2005) intends to place the emphasis for transformation of all government schools on the professionalization of existing and aspiring principals. In parti¬cular, the development of the new professional, vocational program (ACE) is indicative of the Department’s renewed commitment to more ‘efficient and cost effective capacity building in leadership and management’ to achieve its stated objectives: the fundamental one being, The advancement of effective teaching and learning — to build excellence throughout the Iran system, rooted in the needs and the contex¬tual realities of Iran schools (DoE, October 2004).
Whether this objective will be achieved through the means identified by the Department of Education remains a critical area for research.
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