Exploring leadership in early childhood development centres: narratives of three principals in two townships.
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The purpose of the study was to explore the lived experiences of principals in three Early Childhood Development (ECD) centres in two townships. The study explored the identities, practices of these principals and also the influence of these principals’ practices on the operation of their centres in townships. Four research puzzles were used as instruments to generate field texts. These puzzles include; Who are the principals leading ECD centres in townships? What are the leadership experiences of ECD centre principals? What are the leadership practices of principals leading ECD centres in townships? and How do the leadership practices of principals influence the operations of the ECD centres in a township? Social Identity theory and Servant Leadership theory constituted the theoretical framework which was used to understand the experiences of ECD centre principals in townships. This study was conducted within Narrative Inquiry, which is a methodology that studies the experiences of individuals through generating narrative field texts. Field texts were generated through life story interviews, collage inquiry and photo voice inquiry. The field texts were then analysed at two levels; namely, narrative analysis (first level) and analysis of narratives (second level). Upon the examination of these ECD centre principals re-storied narratives, two key identities were identified, namely, community servants and passion driven leaders. In addition, the study found two key experiences of principals leading ECD centres in townships, namely, leading with minimal resources and lack of support from authorities. Again, the study revealed two broad leadership practices enacted by principals in ECD centres, namely, designing and leading learning programmes and harnessing funds. Lastly, the study revealed the importance of the principals’ leadership practices on the operations of ECD centres, the motivation of employees at the centres and the consequent provision of customer satisfaction.