If your school has had any luck, your 1st date for the election of a new school governing body would have been a success. If you're down on your luck, don't worry ... 90% of schools do not get it right at the first time of asking. The required quorum of 15% of the voters roll sounds easily achievable. By now, you know it isn't.
By month-end, all schools should have new governors in place. These second meetings, not requiring a quorum, inevitably deliver the numbers. The sad reality though is that the new governing body tends to be elected by those parents who bothered to attend the meeting..often just more than the number required to serve.
So, on one hand, schools can tick off that they've done the exercise but this doesn't say anything for the quality of the governors elected or their competence to impact on the quality of the school's forward movement. On the other hand, these second meetings often deliver the core, interest group, that the school wanted in the first place; those who keep the historical agenda alive in the name of preservation of culture, status and standing. And many logical arguments can be offered to justify this. It will make perfect sense and ensure privilege and power stays in the hands of a few to the collective detriment of the many.
I can hear many saying that parents are apathetic and disinterested in governance and why should we punish those who are willing to serve? That would be a legitimate question to ask, if life was that innocent. The issue of disinterested parents is not the issue at all.
The issue is that the South African Schools Act allows for parent involvement in our schools but no effort is made by management or the existing governing body members in many of our schools to build the competencies in our parents in preparation to serve. I can already hear the cacophony of noise...why is this our responsibility; what about the State's mandated duty to do this?
Yes, the State organs, i.e. Departments of Education, will rollout training sessions after the elections; yes, governors will attend; yes, they will be enthusiastic. And yes, they will loose this enthusiasm quickly! Why? Because many schools do not take this role-playing entity seriously. It is something that must happen, not dissimilar to learners writing an end-of-the-year examination.
Like many things in the life of a school, the SGB can play a meaningful role in raising the efficiencies at a school if we set them up to succeed. For this to happen, meaningful training should be put in place over many months. Nothing should be left to chance or self-discovery. The entire education system is acutely aware of the functions assigned to governors and the need for effective execution.
So, I appeal to you reading this as a stakeholder in public education. Insist that we train our governors properly. Insist that they plan properly. Insist that they fulfill their roles with respect and dignity. Insist that they remain accountable to everyone attached to a school. Insist that nepotism and corruption be routed out. Insist on transparent behaviour. Insist on building secondary layers of leadership. Because if we don't, we will never stop the power plays at management level, the level of the staff room and at the meetings of governing bodies...all in the name of improving education!
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