SAPA National
South African Principals Association
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
- Nelson Mandela
Email - info@sapanational.com
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SAPA affirms excellent education leadership and management, enhances professional development and promotes meaningful interaction.

SAPA is an independent, non-discriminatory and non-aligned association

  • Provide opportunities for the professional development of members and participate in policy formulation at department level by securing positions on relevant committees and task groups.
  • Participate in curriculum development and educational restructuring.
  • Recognise and promote the role of our members in their schools and communities.
  • Facilitate communication and mentorship among educational leaders.
  • Undertake educational research, publish journals and our news sheets and disseminate professional literature.
  • Promote liaison with teacher formations.
  • Establish links with international associations of principals.
  • Promote the interests of members
  • Represent the professional interests of all members.

  • Our Values are:

  • Excellence, Professionalism, Integrity, Collegiality and Transparency

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 payable to the provincial treasurer. A percentage of this subscription (currently R100) 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 the association.

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

  • Through the provincial 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).

The SAPA national executive committee meets four times a year, in February, May, August and October (Planning Meeting). The first three meetings are usually in Pretoria, Gauteng, as our national office is situated here. The fourth meeting is usually wherever the national conference is being held.

The national executive committee annually has three meetings with the Department of Basic Education, in particular with Mr James Ndlebe (Director: Education Management and Governance Directorate) where various issues affecting school management and governance is discussed.


SAPA nationally also holds a conference which moves from province to province with 2018 seeing the conference at Sun City in the North West Province.

SAPA has hosted THREE international conferences over the past few years, which has prevented the association to host national conferences. In 2005 SAPA had the honour of co-hosting the International Confederation of Principals’ convention with the South African Heads of Independent Schools Association (SAHISA). Some 1600 school principals from all parts of the world attended this convention in Cape Town. 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.

In 2016 SAPA National hosted the 9th African Confederation of Principals’ Conference in the Century City Convention Centre in Cape Town. The theme of this conference was “Educating the African Child: Opening the Gateway to Global Citizenship”. 836 delegates from across Africa attended this conference.

In 2017 SAPA National will host the 13th Biennial Convention of the International Confederation of Principals at the Cape Town International Convention Centre. The theme of the convention is ‘Brain Waves of Change and we are expecting 1 500+ delegates from across the world to attend this convention from the 22nd to the 25th of September 2017.

The national conferences in the new millennium were held in Port Elizabeth (2000), Cape Town (2001), Johannesburg (2002), Polokwane (2003), Durban (2004), Cape Town ICP (2005), (2006), Cape Town (2007), Johannesburg (2008), (2009), Cape Town (2010), Durban (2011), Bloemfontein (2012), Johannesburg (2013), Limpopo (2014), Port Elizabeth (2015), Cape Town ACP (2016), Cape Town ICP (2017), Rustenburg (2018)……………(I’ll find the missing information)

We must however not forget that we are also part of the International Confederation of Principals (ICP) and the African Confederation of Principals (ACP).

Biennial international conventions are organized by ICP and have been held in various countries around the world: Geneva, Switzerland (1993), Sydney, Australia (1995), Boston, USA (1997), Helsinki, Finland (1999), Seoul, Korea (2001) Edinburgh, Scotland (2003). Cape town, South Africa (2005), Auckland, New Zealand (2007), Singapore (2009), Toronto, Canada (2011), Cairns, Australia (2013), Helsinki, Finland (2015), Cape Town, South Africa (2017), Shanghai, China (2019) Biennial ACP conferences are also organized in various countries in Africa: South Africa (2000), Ghana (2002), Kenya (2004), Nigeria (2006), Uganda (2008), Lesotho (2010), Tanzania (2012), Accra, Ghana (2014), Cape Town, South Africa (2016), Mobassa, Kenya (2018)
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