The aim of this research was to explore the principals’ perceptions of their instructional
leadership role in the improvement of literacy and numeracy in the Foundation Phase.
This study was guided by a desire to find out and understand what principals perceive as
their instructional leadership role in the improvement of literacy and numeracy. Although
instructional leadership has been studied intensively, these studies have not explicitly
considered principals’ perceptions of this concept. Most of the research has tended to
explain this phenomenon from other stakeholders’ point of view. There has been very
little research that has sought to understand how and in what ways principals view their
instructional leadership role. As a domain of school leadership, instructional leadership is
viewed by many as the primary role of principals which is meant to ensure effective and
efficient teaching and learning.
The deteriorating level of learner performance in both national and international tests has
prompted the South African ministry of education to redirect efforts and seriously
consider the importance of basic numeracy and literacy skills. The Department of Basic
Education introduced programmes, namely the Foundations For Learning Campaign, the
Annual National Assessment and Action Plan to 2014 to address the problems of
learners’ inability to read, make basic calculations and write. This study is, thus,
premised on the assumption that literacy and numeracy are prerequisites for learners’
To best understand instructional leadership, six primary school principals were
purposefully sampled according to their schools’ performance in the 2012 Annual
National Assessment results. They were sampled as “good”, “average”, and “poor”
performing schools. All these participants shared the same socio-economic background and were situated in the deep rural villages of Limpopo Province. Semi-structured
interviews were used as a data collecting technique for the study.