Leading private Chinese schools in northern Thailand: Contextual challenges facing school principals and their perceptions toward their leadership roles
Keywords:contextual leadership challenges, leadership roles, northern Thailand, perceptions, private Chinese schools
Private Chinese schools have existed in northern Thailand since the late 1950s to provide the descendants of the Isolated Army of Kuomintang (KMT) who retreated from Yunnan Province of China to northern Thailand in 1954 with opportunities to learn their ancestors’ language and culture to inherit their Chinese bloodline. However, these schools encounter increasing contextual challenges. This study sought to investigate contextual leadership challenges and school principals’ perceptions on their leadership roles in these schools. The study employed a qualitative research design using semi-structured in-depth interviews with a sample of school principals from nine private Chinese schools in Chiangrai and Chiangmai provinces. Data were analyzed using thematic analysis. The findings revealed that participating school principals encountered omnibus and discrete contextual challenges. The former included Chinese-culture preservation, school legalization, financial constraints and political crisis. The latter included dealing with academic problems, teacher recruitment, and interaction with local communities. The participating school principals also reported that they had manifold challenging leadership roles to play and various levels of responsibilities to shoulder, but they all took great pride in their role as leaders of private Chinese schools in remote areas in northern Thailand.