Enacting Social Justice in Education through Spiritual Leadership


Promulgated by Nelson Mandela in December 1996, South Africa’s post-Apartheid Constitution draws on the Bill of Rights to affirm the democratic values of human dignity, equality and freedom. As an emerging democracy, South Africa further seeks to address issues of social justice and equality in education through the South African Schools Act of 1996. This Act sets out policies and practices intended to redress past injustices and support the rights of learners, educators and parents. Drawing on critical feminist theory, this study explored the experiences of female educational leaders in South Africa’s disadvantaged rural school communities. This qualitative research adopted a case studies research design. Data were collected through in-depth interviews and observations. The aims of this paper are: (i) to investigate the principles of social justice and equity as expressed through spiritual leadership; and (ii) to interpret these principles in relation to education policies. Identifying connectedness and spirituality as prerequisites for spiritual leadership, the study found that spiritual leadership is a means through which social justice leadership can be enacted. While the South African Schools Act upholds the notion that public schools promote democracy through respect for all and a tolerance of diverse religious beliefs, this paper does not conflate spirituality with religion. It instead, explores alternative interpretations which explore spiritual leadership and restorative justice as vehicles through which equity and social justice can be understood and enacted.



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Copyright (c) 2017 Graham Edwards, Juliet Perumal