Theme: School Leadership, Management and Governance during the Disruptive Time of COVID-19 in Developing Economies

Issue Guest Editors:
Dr Phumlani E. Myende                             Prof Jan Heystek

School of Education                                    Research Director of Edu-Lead

University of KwaZulu-Natal                   North-West University

Pietermaritzburg Campus                       Potchefstroom Campus

“WHO  declared  the  coronavirus  disease  2019  (COVID-19)  outbreak,  caused  by  severe  acute  respiratory  syndrome  coronavirus   2   (SARS-CoV-2), to   be   a   pandemic   on   March 12, 2020. On March 18, 2020, the UN Educational, Scientific   and   Cultural   Organization   estimated   that   107  countries  had  implemented  national  school  closures  related  to  COVID-19,  affecting  862  million  children  and  young people, roughly half the global student population” (Viner, Russell, Croker, Packer, Ward, Stansfield, Mytton, Bonell & Booy, 2020).

In line with the above declaration, the South African president announced the early closure of South African schools in March (Mhlanga & Moloi, 2020). From the onset there was the general view that this closure was going to have tremendous impact on schools, teachers and students (Almanthari, Maulina & Bruce, 2020) and there is no doubt that it will also have multiple challenges for school leaders and managers (Lancker & Parolin, 2020).

Soon after the school closures in South Africa, different members of society started making proposals on what should be done to salvage the schools’ academic year. The Minister of Basic Education announced that the phased opening of schools will begin from the 1st of June and argued that her department would have ensured that the majority of schools will be ready to receive Grade 7s and 12s. While not all schools opened during this time, many schools were opened even though teaching and learning was officially postponed to resume on the 8th of June 2020. As Lancker and Parolin (2020) opine, the closure and then the phased approach to the re-opening of schools, presented multiple challenges for school leaders, managers and governors.

Then for those schools that reopened, the re-opening has exacerbated the multiple challenges that school leaders, managers and governors have encountered, also given the dearth of online teaching and learning technologies, methodologies, and contents, as well as the social and economic impact that COVID-19 has. This has required of them to find context-responsive ways of leading to adapt and cope with the unprecedented problematising of education outcomes posed by COVID-19.

In addition, following the rejection of the re-opening of schools by five teaching unions, we have also learnt from the Sunday Times that Minister Angie Motshekga was locked in meetings with the Cabinet, comprising of senior ministers, and that controls government policy, on Sunday 19 July 2020 (Ngqakamba). The unions have proposed that matrics only return to school on 17 August 2020. This is further evidence of the precarious position that school leaderships find themselves in at present.

So, COVID-19 can be regarded as a health deprivation and this type of deprivation is bound to render leading for quality teaching and learning a difficult undertaking. 

While teaching and learning is at the centre of the education project in South Africa, school leaders, managers and governors are also expected to play a creative and constructive role in managing the anxiety and related social and economic impacts that this pandemic and the closure and challenges related to the opening of schools have come with.

There is therefore, a need to unearth the dimensions of the challenges, the conceptual frameworks, the best practices and the theories and methods of school leadership, management and governance during this unprecedented and disruptive period of COVID-19, especially within a developing context where leaders are already battling to ensure quality teaching and learning takes place in adverse conditions.

Drawing on the experiences of developing economies, this special issue of Alternation intends to explore the challenges, dimensions, theories and best practices as well as the nature of meaningful leadership, management and governance of schools in the context of COVID-19.

Contributors are expected to share their empirical and/or theoretical and conceptual research that can advance theories and practices of leadership, management and governance during these challenging times of crises, especially within the developing economic contexts, in this time of COVID-19.  

Below are some of the questions that contributors may align their submissions with, but they may also feel free to develop their own research projects, in light of the above.

  • What theory and practice frameworks can school leadership, management and governance employ to guide best practice during this time of the unprecedented and disruptive challenges emanating from COVID-19?
  • What school processes and procedures could school leadership, management and governance deploy to foster accountability, integrity and responsiveness among staff and pupils during times like this?
  • What can we learn from other continental and global education systems with regard to constructive and creative responsiveness by school leaderships to staff, pupils, and the parent cohorts, in respect of the education disruptions accompanied COVID-19.  
  • Which styles of leadership could be deployed to enhance innovative cultures of teaching and learning at school levels and in the education system in general, that are enabling to leadership, management and governance during this time of COVID-19?
  • How do varied urban and rural school contexts determine how the nature and quality of school leaderships are conceived and applied during this period of COVID-19?
  • Which forms of decentralised education leadership and management structures as well as forms of the devolution of power, could be helpful and enable, or inhibit and counteract, quality and best practices in school leadership, management and governance responses to COVID-19 at school levels?

Each article should be between 6000 and 8000 words.


Expected date of publication: February 2021.



Interested contributors are encouraged to submit their abstracts to the Alternation corresponding editor of this special edition, Dr. Phumlani Myende, at:

Online submissions:


The SUBJECT line of the email should read: COVID-19 School Leadership Abstract by... (Name of the corresponding author/s).



  • A succinct title
  • A brief abstract (± 200 words) which includes at least the focus of the study, the importance of the study/ contribution to knowledge, the (empirical) methodological approach adopted and key findings/ aspects to be covered
  • Author/s name/s
  • Author/s institutional affiliation
  • Contact details



  • Friday 07 August 2020: Deadline for submission of abstracts
  • Monday 31 August 2020: Final date for acceptance of abstracts
  • Friday 30 October 2020: Final date for submission of article
  • Friday 30 October to Tuesday 15 December 2020: Peer review process
  • Friday 15 January 2020: Submission of final edited chapters
  • February 2021: Publication


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Almanthari, A., S. Maulina & S. Bruce 2020. Secondary School Mathematics Teachers’ Views on E-learning Implementation Barriers during the COVID-19 Pandemic: The Case of Indonesia. Eurasia Journal of Mathematics, Science and Technology Education 16,7: 1 -9.

Mhlanga, D. & T. Moloi 2020. COVID-19 and the Digital Transformation of Education: What We Are Learning in South Africa.; 2020. DOI: 10.20944/preprints202004.0195.v1

Ngqakamba, S. 2020. Covid-19: Angie Motshekga meets Cabinet as Unions Propose Matrics Return to School on 17 August. Available at:

 Van Lancker, W. & Z. Parolin 2020. COVID-19, School Closures, and Child Poverty: A Social Crisis in the Making. The Lancet Public Health 5,5: 243 - 244. DOI: 10.1016/S2468-2667(20)30084-0

Viner, R.M., S.J. Russell, H. Croker, J. Packer, J. Ward, S. Stansfield, O. Mytton, C. Bonell & R. Booy 2020. School Closure and Management Practices during Coronavirus Outbreaks Including COVID-19: A Rapid Systematic Review. The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health 4,5:397 – 404. DOI: