Research Key

Effectiveness of School Leadership and Management Development in Cameroon

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  • Introduction



The last fifty two years since the independent of Cameroon have seen an increasing international interest in leadership development courses and programmes for school leaders. This interest in intervening to develop leadership and management ability within schools derives in part from a developing concern in many educational systems regarding perceived leadership inadequacies amongst school leaders and in part from a belief that the quality of leadership makes a significant difference to the effectiveness of schools by deepening the knowledge, expertise and behaviours of school leaders (Brungardt, 1996; Collins, 2002; Rhodes et al., 2009).



As this thesis will explore more fully, this belief that schools require effective leaders if they are to provide the best possible educational opportunities is common not only in most western countries but as well in developing countries (Commonwealth Secretariat, 1996; Bush and Jackson, 2002; Bush, 2008; Lumby et al., 2008). Indeed, a 1996 report by the Commonwealth Secretariat showed that there is broad international agreement about the need for schools and educational systems to enhance their capacity to improve the development of school leaders.

There has been a clear trend, therefore, towards the adoption of formal management and leadership training programmes for school leaders and, as Bush (2008) has recently predicted, expenditure on school leadership development will continue to grow throughout the next decade as still more educational systems recognize the shortage of talented leaders and the requirements to broaden viewpoints in order to compete globally (Hallinger and Heck, 1999; Huber, 2011). In respect to developing countries, however, the provision of leadership education still lags far behind the demand for that education among aspiring school leaders (Akoulouze et al., 1999; Bush and Jackson, 2002; Lumby et al., 2008; Bush, 2008; Huber, 2011).



It is also striking that, despite the increasing prevalence of leadership development programmes, there has been relatively little rigorous evaluation of their effectiveness in actually supporting aspiring school leaders in their transition to headship; that leadership development programmes will actually result in improved leadership skills appears to be largely taken for granted in many educational systems.



There are a variety of possible reasons as to why schools and educational systems in developing countries are not evaluating or reporting the results of their leadership and management development programmes. Firstly, the very complexity of modern educational systems, which require a complex and overlapping range of leadership and management skills, itself, makes the development of those skills, and then their consequent impact on school performance, difficult to assess in a consistent and scientifically rigorous way. Secondly, whilst it is a challenge in itself to consistently measure the interpersonal skills and the work performance of individual school leaders (Kirkpatrick, 1997, 2005), it is even more difficult to measure the impact of leadership change within schools on the effectiveness of an educational system as a whole, since this often involves analysis at multiple levels of educational systems (Bush and Jackson, 2002; Lumby et al., 2008). Evaluative studies of management and leadership development programmes, therefore, may be sparse because of the lack of an evaluation model that sufficiently measures the effect of the programmes on the performance of educational systems (Kirkpatrick, 2005; Collins, 2002; Patton, 1990, 2002; Hansen, 2005).


Thirdly, while tasks and challenges encountered on-the-job development is the most important source of learning, the truth is that all jobs are not developmentally equal, nor can they be expressed in an objective way, which possibly makes evaluation more difficult (Kirkpatrick, 2005; Bush and Jackson, 2002; Patton, 1990, 2002; Collins, 2002; Hansen,



In the context of leadership development training more generally Kirkpatrick (2005), has attempted to provide a model to evaluate the effectiveness of management and leadership training programmes. The power of Kirkpatrick’s model is its simplicity (Bush and Jackson, 2002). It has been used primarily to evaluate reactions (satisfaction of stakeholders based on the situation of training, the contents and methods, etc.), learning, and expertise (cognitive learning success and increase in knowledge), as well as behaviour (transfer success in terms of an action resulting from the content of training) and the end results (school accomplishment in terms of passing of the content of training to the educational system practice, resulting in positive organisational changes): all of which are measurements of the

transfer of training to individuals. However, Kirkpatrick’s model does not appear to be effective in measuring educational system performance; the effectiveness of an educational system in achieving good results as acknowledged by its strategic goals, or the realization of a return on investments (Bush and Jackson, 2002; Pont et al., 2008; Lumby et al., 2008).



1.2  Rationale for Study

The above section has shown how globalization of educational establishments has challenged schools and educational systems to rethink their strategies, structures, and the competencies necessary for school leaders. Leadership and management development programmes are increasingly prevalent because schools and educational systems in both developed and developing countries are facing a multitude of outcome-based pressures. The demands of a globalised world have placed high quality education at the forefront of national policy agendas and this has led to ever more precise and challenging national and global accreditation standards. This trend, together with a more aggressive recognition of the central role of school leaders in driving forward the national agenda into tangible educational results, has served to encourage the growth in management and leadership development programmes (Hofstede, 1980; Commonwealth Secretariat, 1996; Harber and Davies, 1997; Bush and Jackson, 2002; Bush, 2008; Lumby et al., 2008).



We have also seen, however, how the effectiveness of these programmes has not been rigorously assessed. There is no scholarly consensus as to how effectively management and leadership development programmes contribute to school leaders’ knowledge, expertise and behaviours (Brungardt, 1996; Collins, 2002) or to the educational system as a whole (Bush

and Jackson, 2002; Jackson and Kelly, 2002; DfES, 2004; Pont et al., 2008, Ontario Ministry of Education, 2012). In particular, since Lumby et al. (2008), no comprehensive evaluation has been published on the effectiveness of school management and leadership development study.

Such studies as there are take different approaches. Lumby et al.’s (2008) study offers a comparative overview, from an international perspective, of the type, content and methods of programmes designed to develop skills in school management and leadership (principally for aspirant leaders but also for new and experienced head teachers) and makes some attempt to assess the impact on school, community and educational system performance. Meanwhile Rhodes et al.’s (2009) research in the United Kingdom (UK) has explored the benefits and shortcomings of the National Professional Qualification for Headship (NPQH) taught element, as well as how NPQH related experiences in schools, outside schools and in non- professional life support aspirant heads to make the transition to headship.


In this context, the rationale for this research is to contribute to the currently uncertain knowledge in regard to the effectiveness of school management and leadership development programmes. A cumulative study of the outcomes of management and leadership development programmes is needed in order to identify the programme types and content areas that best enhance school leaders’ knowledge, expertise and behaviour and have the most positive impact on the development of aspiring heads. The outcomes of this research have to be of theoretical attention to educational system, schools, head teachers, those aspiring to educational leadership, and researchers, as well as being of practical use to educational policy-makers.

A further aspect of the study rationale is its focus on the effectiveness of school management and leadership development programs in Cameroon. The effectiveness of school leadership training in educational systems in the developing world is even less well understood than their effectiveness in the developed world (Bush and Jackson, 2002; Bush, 2008; Lumby et al., 2008). Whereas there have been some attempts to explore the effectiveness of programmes in countries such as the UK (Earley et al. 2002), results from these studies cannot be easily transferred to a developing world context, yet it is in the developing world that there is, arguably, the most need for dynamic and effective school leadership in order to deliver high-quality education in challenging and resource poor conditions. As the Commonwealth Secretariat’s report has stated (Commonwealth Secretariat, 1996).

This is certainly a problem in much of Africa where: without the necessary skills, many heads are overwhelmed by the task…strategies for training and supporting schools’ heads are generally inadequate throughout Africa (p.418)

In Cameroon for example in-service training typically includes a variety of management development experiences, such as school leader’s teacher training experience, on-the-job instructional learning programmes for both aspiring heads and head teachers; mentoring and coaching of aspiring heads in various aspects of educational management and administration (Akoulouze et al. 1999). Leadership training programmes are similarly offered in annual seminars but there are no leadership standards or leader competences governing them. Also, unlike the UK’s NPQH, there is no certification requirement in Cameroon and no clear set of standards, expectations or essential prior experience for the headship position.



While the variety of tasks and challenges encountered on the job are a major source of learning for aspiring head teachers, there remains a void in respect to what is known about effective methods of leadership training and the management development of school leaders in Cameroon, and about the factors that enhance aspiring head teachers’ transition to headship. Researchers have noted for some time that more empirical studies are needed to enable a fuller assessment of effective management and development approaches in an African context (Commonwealth Secretariat, 1996; Bush and Jackson, 2002; Bush and Oduro, 2006; Bush, 2008; Lumby et al., 2008).


This project, therefore, starts from the position that there is an inherent justification for the research in the apparent disjunction between the international trend towards formal leadership development processes and programmes for aspiring head teachers and the less structured national framework in Cameroon.


It ought to be emphasised, nevertheless, that the simple reality that leadership development in Cameroon, as in much of Africa, is less structured than in the developed world is not, in itself, evidence that this approach is less effective in preparing successful school leaders. It may be that within the broader social and economic context prevailing in Cameroon structured programmes could be more effective, or at least a more efficient use of scarce resources, than in developed countries. The Commonwealth Secretariat (1996) for example, found that formal training programmes were expensive and inadequate in that they could only cater for a tiny proportion of the total number of current or prospective head teachers. It could also be that there are cultural influences which encourage informal transfer of knowledge in preference to formal training programmes.

On the other hand, it might be that the creation of formal training programmes for school leadership, tailored to the needs and the social and economic realities of developing countries, does have the potential to address the chronic weaknesses in leadership training in Africa identified by the Commonwealth Secretariat (1996) and, more recently, by Bush (2008) and Lumby et al. (2008).


Assessing the various merits of formal and in-house leadership development processes and the extent to which these approaches offer both measurably positive outcomes, and whether these outcomes are delivered efficiently and in a manner that is able to be resourced in a sustainable manner above the long term within a developing economy, is, therefore, of great current importance.


This project, therefore, attempts to apply an international theoretical perspective, such as that offered by Lumby et al. (2008), and a rigorous data surveying and data analysis approach, such as that utilised by Bush and Jackson (2002) and Rhodes et al. (2009), to the Cameroonian school leadership training context. It thereby seeks, on the one hand, to develop the body of scholarly understanding of the issues facing school leadership development in Africa and, on the other hand, to inform the Cameroonian Ministry of Higher Education, and other education professionals in Cameroon, in regard to the advancement and distribution of good practice in managing models of school leadership development structures and processes. In particular, it is hoped that this research can offer a basis for the development of a professional qualification to be offered in Cameroon for aspiring school leaders.





1.3  Aims of the Study

As will be explored in more detail in the ensuing sections of this study, there is a significant body of literature in relation to school leadership management development for aspiring school leaders. This research has taken place internationally but has focused very largely on the situation in the developed world. There has been much less scholarly work, however, on management and leadership development processes in Africa and, in relation to this study, in Cameroon. The lack of prior research in this specific area poses challenges for this study in that there is no established paradigm for investigating school or educational system leadership development in Cameroon and a bespoke model will therefore need to be created.



A further issue that needs to be addressed in the study’s aims are the views of current aspiring heads and head teachers in Cameroon. Given the lack of literature in this precise area, the study is not envisaged as a purely literature based exercise, but aims to begin the process of developing a Cameroonian research base in school and educational system leadership. The task of creating a base for further research is dependent on conducting core empirical research and it is to this end that an important aim for the project is the development of a robust body of data on the views and experiences of current aspiring heads and head teachers (see for example Bush and Jackson, 2002; Lumby et al., 2008; Rhodes et al., 2009; Singh, 2009; for the development of this kind of data in an international and in a UK context).



Having established a method to measure management and leadership development programmes and undertaken a study to establish the views of school leaders about these processes the logical final aim for the project will be to assess the effectiveness of leadership


preparation and management development in preparing aspiring heads for successful school leadership.


From this basis the aims of the study are:


  • To elicit the views of aspiring heads and head teachers in Cameroon on what enhanced their preparedness for headship;
  • To evaluate how aspiring heads and head teachers perceived their leadership and management training as a means to improve the quality of the educational services they provided;
  • To ascertain to what extent the management and leadership development processes in Cameroon are viewed by aspiring heads and head teachers to be effective in preparing prospective leaders to become successful senior leaders;
  • To develop a national leadership development framework for aspiring head




1.4  Research Questions


The above four aims translate into a range of more targeted research questions. These research questions will inform the framework of the thesis and guide the methodological approach and structure of the research study itself. These research questions are delineated below in relation to their corresponding research aim:


RQ1. To what extent are management and leadership development programmes within the Cameroonian context regarded as important for developing effective school leadership? [Aim 1]

RQ2. How do aspiring heads and head teachers in Cameroon perceive their own development opportunities, specifically in relation to their impact on enhancing:

  • knowledge outcomes;


  • expertise (behaviour) outcomes, and


  • educational system level outcomes? [Aim 2]



RQ3. How effective are management and leadership development processes in Cameroon in preparing prospective leaders to become effective head teachers? [Aim 3]



RQ4. What recommendations might be made to assist the improvement of current management and leadership development processes in Cameroon and the development of new leadership training programs?

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