History - SAPA KZN - South African Principals' Association of KwaZulu Natal

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
Nelson Mandela
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SAPA was formed in 1995 at a launching conference in the Western Cape. It is based on the principles of non-alignment to any political party or organization, or to any other educator body or union. This paves the way for individuals to be members of the major teacher unions in South Africa and also be members of SAPA. While SAPA is the national umbrella body, the association effectively functions at a provincial level. Each province elects its own executive committee to organize activities within the province, such as conferences, local seminars, newsletters, negotiations with provincial education departments in the interests of members etc.

Members carry out all the work of the association on a voluntary basis and no official is remunerated for his/her work. The main source of funding is the annual membership fee, currently R200, payable to the provincial treasurer. A percentage of this subscription (currently R70.00) is disbursed to the treasurer of SAPA for utilization by the national executive.

What are the benefits for you as a Principal?

• Membership of a professional body which aims at enhancing your skills and professional development so that you will feel more confident about the task of leading your school.

• The opportunity to attend local and provincial workshops, seminars and conferences organized by your executive and which are in tune with local needs. Your participation at the local and provincial level will determine the effectiveness of SAPA-KZN.

• The opportunity, through SAPA-KZN representatives, to have a say in the planning and organization of SAPA national executive.

• Through SAPA-KZN representatives, information fed down to grassroots level from national and provincial education authorities; in other words an effective communication channel.

• The opportunity to attend the annual national conference which ensures that you will be at the forefront of educational developments by means of stimulating and relevant keynote speakers and challenging and practical workshop sessions. A different SAPA provincial executive hosts the annual conference each year.

• Ensuring that you never feel isolated from not only national but also international trends, SAPA provides opportunities to access current world developments in educational leadership through membership of the international Confederation of Principals (ICP) and the African Convention of Principals (ACP).

This then provides a brief background, and many of the issues raised above will be picked up in the rest of this newsletter.

The SAPA national executive committee meets three times a year, in February, June and a day before the national conference. The first two meetings are usually in Gauteng (either Johannesburg or Pretoria), and the third wherever the national conference is being held. The President and members of the executive committee have held regular meetings with the Department of Education, in particular with Dr. Martin Prew (Director: Education Management and Governance Development, District Development and School Safety) where various issues affecting school management have been discussed.


SAPA-KZN, which began as KWAZUNAPA, was also formed in 1995 and functioning with a fluctuating membership of between 150 and 200. After a brief period of inactivity, SAPA-KZN was revived at the provincial conference held at Durban Girls’ High School in May 2002. We are indeed grateful to the past and present principals of Glenwood High School, Mr. Mike Maher, and Mr. Trevor Kershaw respectively, for holding the administrative (membership details) and financial reins together over the years.

Currently, our membership at provincial level stands at 240 which constitute 18% of the national membership of 1500. Our aim is to more than double that figure in KZN, and hence our numbers nationally will also be strengthened. A criticism made by Thami Mseleku (DDG: former Department of National Education) was that SAPA is ‘still perceived as a predominately white and conservative association of principals’. Although he conceded that the reputation of an organization lags three years behind the facts, it is important that our membership reflects the demographics of our province. It must also be mentioned that SAPA is not a threat to any of the established teacher unions and associations, but in fact, will complement them. As mentioned earlier, there is room for principals to be members of bother teacher unions of their choice as well as SAPA. We have come a long way since 1994, and the membership of SAPA-KZN should transcend all the previous barriers that have kept us well apart!

It is, therefore, imperative for all members of SAPA-KZN to recruit at least one new member so that we can grow in strength and have a credible voice in the different education forums.


This issue has been discussed at length at recent executive meetings. At present we have concentrated on provincial and national conferences, but we acknowledge that there is much to be done in the way of workshops, seminars and forums for principals to get together – to obtain information, share ideas, and generally, to a network. We would welcome ideas from you, our members, on how we can become more effective in this sphere.

SAPA-KZN holds an annual conference which usually takes place in Durban. Durban Girls’ High School, Danville Park Girls’ High and Chelsea Preparatory School have been the venues over the last three years.

This year – 2006 – the theme of our conference was Leadership Dynamics – Dynamic Leadership and we were able to attract excellent speakers who made attendance at a conference a very worthwhile event.Mrs. Ina Cronje opened the conference, directly challenging principals to ‘stand up’ and be counted in terms of our position in society and our willingness to point out what was not acceptable behaviour by our colleagues.

The keynote speakers were:
Ms. Penny Vinjewold (Deputy Director-General–FET),
Dr. Naledi Moyo-Ndwandwe (CEO-African Access International)
Professor Dasarth Chetty (Executive Director Public Affairs and Corporate Communications-UKZN)
Ms. Susan Mokwebo (motivational Speaker)

SAPA nationally also holds a conference which moves from province to province with 2004 seeing the conference at the ICC in Durban. In 2005 we did not hold a national conference as SAPA was honoured to be able to co-host the world Convention of Principals in Cape Town. This conference saw our organization joining hands with the South African Heads of Independent Schools Association (SAHISA) and hosting some 1600 school principals from all parts of the world. This event was undoubtedly a triumph for South African Education and saw all facets of South African Education working together to make this event a memorable one.

The national conferences in the new millennium were held in Port Elizabeth (2000), Cape Town (2001), Johannesburg (2002) and Polokwane in 2003. The 2004 national conference was hosted by SAPA-KZN at the ICC in Durban. There are many individuals out there with the necessary skills to make our conferences a success. Again, contact us with your ideas on themes, topics, speakers etc. and to volunteer your services your services onto the various committees. We look forward to your meaningful participation in the conferences and SAPA-KZN.This year the National Conference will be in Bloemfontein and we can look forward to three days of quality discussion on the matter pertaining to education with our colleagues from all parts of South Africa.

We must however not forget that we are also part of the International Confederation of Principals (ICP). Biennial international conferences are organized by ICP and have been held in Sydney, Australia (1995), Boston, USA (1997), Helsinki, Finland (1999), Seoul, Korea (2001) and Edinburgh, Scotland (2003). The 7th World Conference of the international Confederation of Principals was held at the Cape Town International Convention Centre in 2005. The Convention was hosted jointly by SAPA and the South African Heads of Independent Schools Association (SAHISA)
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