|dc.description.abstract||The South African public education system, is a two-tiered education system, comprising the
poor schools and the least poor schools. The former are ranked quintiles 1, 2 and 3 while the
latter are ranked quintile 4 and 5. Quintile 1 schools, in the main, are found in rural locales.
Quintiles 4 and 5 are mainly located in urban areas. Primary schools located in rural contexts
contend with a myriad of challenges including poverty, unemployment, constrained resource
and poor infrastructural capacities aggravated by their geographic landscape. While contending
with these adversities, they are expected to perform at a similar level as their counterparts in
urban contexts. Given these challenges, these schools are expected to be dysfunctional and
perform poorly. However, there are pockets of schools which are functional and able to perform
at more or less the same level as schools in other contexts. This study explores the lived
experiences of school principals leading primary schools in rural contexts. The study sought to
narratively understand the dynamics of leading in rural contexts. It is positioned within the
interpretivist paradigm. Methodologically, the study employed narrative inquiry. Four primary
school principals leading in rural context were purposively selected in the Ilembe District. Life
story interviews, artefact inquiry and collage inquiry were used to generate field texts (data).
Research texts were thematically analysed. The key findings of the study revealed that the
leadership practices of school principals are influenced by who they are which is characterised
by multiple identities. Therefore, who they are prescribes how they think and what they do.
The school principals draw on their personal and professional meanings and understandings of
selves to inform the leadership practices that they enact. The school principals’ personal and
professional selves draw from each other in the process of constructing meanings and
understandings. The interplay between leadership and rural context shapes and reshapes the
school principals’ leadership practices. To this end, leadership practices are context-laden.
Clearly, leadership discourse can no longer relegate context to the peripheral ranks. The study
generated a model of leadership called Cross-cutting and Multi-agency Leadership (CML).||en_US