Over the next four weeks, over 23000 schools in South Africa will elect new school governors. These persons, will be responsible for working alongside the school management structures over the next three years. It is a critical structure in public schools, one that allows parents to have a direct say in matters of governance in schools. Cemented in the South African Schools Act, 1996, the law stipulates that school governors have very distinct roles to play. The primary roles (Section 20 of SASA) are:
- promote the best interests of the school and strive to ensure its development through the provision of quality education for all learners at the school;
- adopt a constitution;
- develop the mission statement of the school;
- adopt a code of conduct for learners at the school;
- support the principal, educators and other staff of the school in the performance of their professional functions;
- determine times of the school day consistent with any applicable conditions of employment of staff at the school;
- administer and control the school's property, and buildings and grounds occupied by the school, including school hostels, if applicable;
- encourage parents, learners, educators and other staff at the school to render voluntary services to the school;
- recommend to the Head of Department the appointment of educators at the school, subject to the relevant Acts;
- recommend to the Head of Department the appointment of non-educator staff at the school, subject to the relevant Acts;
- at the request of the Head of Department, allow the reasonable use under fair conditions of the facilities of the school for educational programmes not conducted by the school;
- discharge all other functions imposed upon the governing body by or under this Act; and
- discharge other functions consistent with this Act as determined by the Minister by notice in the Government Gazette, or by the Member of the Executive Council by notice in the Provincial Gazette.
The governing body may allow the reasonable use of the facilities of the school for community, social and school fund-raising purposes, subject to such reasonable and equitable conditions as the governing body may determine, which may include the charging of a fee or tariff which accrues to the school. The governing body may also join a voluntary association representing governing bodies of public schools.
SGBs may also apply in writing to the HOD to handle the below-listed functions,
- maintain and improve the school's property, and buildings and grounds occupied by the school, including school hostels, if applicable;
- to determine the extra-mural curriculum of the school and the choice of subject options in terms of provincial curriculum policy;
- to purchase textbooks, educational materials or equipment for the school;
- to pay for services to the school; or
- other functions consistent with this Act and any applicable provincial law.
The functions described above may not sound like much, but it is critical to the success of any school that it is executed with efficiency and effectively. And this brings me to the parents volunteering to serve.
To our parents, please don't do the following:
- make yourself available to settle scores with fellow parents or the teachers of the school should you be elected,
- actively campaign to maintain standards in the school and its culture and you don't even know what that means,
- believe you now have access to the school at any time in the day and want keys to the school's gates,
- make it your business to get your child's needs addressed above those of their fellow learners,
- believe your role is to question every and any decision taken by the school management team,
- meddling in the management of the curriculum in the school as if you're entitled to,
- keep a "black book" on the teachers.
Instead, can I ask that you make yourself available as a resource, an active mind with a number of skills, open to be deployed in the best interest of all learners and the school community. To the many thousands who already do this, keep going ... our schools need you. To those who don't participate for these reasons, please stay away from our schools.