The legacy of the apartheid education system in South Africa has created many challenges. Some of these challenges involve the management of public schools. There was a resistance to change, creating serious managerial problems at many schools which in turn led to deterioration in the quality of education. The first post-apartheid government led by former president, Nelson Mandela and, the subsequent administration led by presidents Thabo Mbeki and Jacob Zuma have emphasized the centrality of education as part of the human development strategy for South Africa. The current administration (Jacob Zuma) has taken this initiative a step further by giving education peak priority. In order to drive this initiative, the government has placed Mathematics, Science and Technology Education on the agenda for the development of scarce in the Further Education and Training (FET) band of the South African schooling system. This has led to the introduction of the National Strategy for Mathematics, Science and Technology Education (NSMSTE) as a policy option for the development of scarce skills in some selected schools throughout the nine provinces of South Africa. This study looks at how the implementation of this policy is managed in the Free State province.
Since 1994 the government‘s attempts to transform education have been stifled by the failures to translate good policies into sound practices. In describing the failures of the African National Congress (ANC) led administration to implement policies, Biko (2013:191) uses an analogy of a failure to discern the dynamics of competing in a world competitive sport wherein all countries out-compete each other in the preparation of their children for the global workforce of the future. Biko (2013:191), further states that this global workforce does not have boundaries, it is not hindered by language barriers and it is also not tolerant of inflexibility. For the future generations, to be globally competitive, schools must provide quality education. This requires effective and efficient management.
Like many other countries, South Africa has made strides in the area of access to education; quality education remains a major drawback. Mathematics and Science education is a flag point of every discussion on quality education. Many university‘s degrees and careers such as engineering require a good grounding in Mathematics and Science. Schools in South Africa incessantly produce few passes in Mathematics and Science. A study that looks into the management practices of the implementers of national policy on the development of scarce skills at school level is expedient. This is a Public Administration study that contributes towards the body of knowledge in finding the solutions for the school managers to implement NSMSTE. Although the challenges of managing schools are intricate and also permeate the broader spectrum of South African schools, provinces are unique in terms of infrastructure and human capital. It is for this reason that the scope of this study is only limited to the human capital of schools in the Free State province. Lessons derived from this study are likely to be applicable to other provinces of South Africa.