Since 1995, the National Department of Education has developed a number
of policies to give effect to the proposed transformation outlined in
White Paper 1 (Notice 196 of 1995) and in subsequent legislation. A
range of Acts and policies were introduced, many of them dealing with
how religion should be dealt with in schools and it culminated in the promulgation
of the National Policy on Religion and Education (2003). In
all these policies the role of the school and, in particular, of the school
principal has been foregrounded as important for effective implementation
of policies. This article is based on research conducted to determine
how school principals dealt with religion and the implementation of the
religion and education policy. This study found that school principals
often ignore the policy and maintain the status quo. When faced with
conflict of religious interests, they partially sub-contract into the policy.
The study also found that past experiences with religion in education,
either as students or educators, had a major impact on how principals
perceive the role of religion in schools and how they dealt with it.