It is well known that South Africa’s performance in the international numeracy and literacy studies rank among the lowest in the world (Reddy, Visser, Winnaar, Arends, Prinsloo & Isdale, 2016). In the 2015 TIMMS assessment South Africa was placed 38th out of 39 countries who participated. The result of a very strong examination focus is a lack of deeper understanding of subject knowledge, as there is a strong emphasis on root memorization in order to achieve good results. In order to prepare learners for the 21st century, characterized by a rapid expansion of knowledge, they need to be equipped with skills to be self-directed learners for life (Guglielmino, 2008). For learners to become self-directed, they should learn to take responsibility for their own learning by knowing when, where and how to extend their own learning and take ownership of their learning. Self-directed learners can determine their own needs, set their own goals to address their needs, identify their own resources and strategies to achieve their goals and eventually evaluate if they achieved the goals (Knowles, 1975). These skills can be fostered through active learning strategies where the learners are in the center of their own learning. However, a new approach to fostering self-directed learning should include teacher training institutions, school principals, teachers and parents. In this paper the emphasis is on the role of the school principal in promoting self-directed learning in a transformational manner. Duby & Fischer (2011) elude on the role of school leadership in not only supporting teachers to foster SDL in their classrooms, but also in enhancing it among teachers. They juxtapose leadership, authority and participative decision making and come to the conclusion that teachers should be empowered by school leaders to enhance SDL. In this paper we will indicate how transformational leadership can be used in a South African context to foster SDL. In this conceptual research paper, we focus on integration of theory and propose a new relationship between transformational leadership and the fostering of SDL. A conceptual paper builds theory by offering propositions regarding previously untested relationships (Gilson & Goldberg, 2015). We will observe and analyze already present literature in the seemingly disjunctive fields to indicate the role of transformational leadership in changing behavior to enhance SDL. We conclude with guidelines through which the school principal can become a transformational leader for self-directed learning.
Keywords: Transformational leadership; Self-directed learning