Western Cape prepares for the school governing bodies elections
Statement by Debbie Schäfer, Western Cape Minister of Education
Schools and the Western Cape Education Department are preparing for the biggest elections after the national, provincial and local government elections, namely, for school governing bodies (SGBs) throughout the province.
SGBs represent all sectors of the school community, including parents, teachers, non-teaching staff and learners in Grades 8 to 12.
The elections will take place throughout South Africa during March 2015. Schools will advise parents on when the elections will take place at their particular schools.
The South African Schools Act gives SGBs considerable powers to govern schools as part of the key structures of our democracy.
We therefore urge parents to participate fully in the nomination and election of members to ensure that the school serves the best interests of their children.
While SGB members do not have to have formal qualifications, we are urging parents with skills in bookkeeping, accounting and legal services in particular to consider standing for election.
While we value skills of all kinds, knowledge of accounting and legal processes is particularly useful, given the kinds of decisions that SGBs have to make., and the responsibilities they are entrusted with.
According to the SA Schools Act, the responsibilities of the SGB include:
- The school’s constitution and mission statement
- Code of conduct
- Budget and financial management
- Recommending staff appointments; and
- Supporting the principal, teachers and other staff.
The term of office will be three years.
The WCED will provide SGBs with comprehensive training and support after the elections by officials who specialise in school management and governance.
The WCED is working with schools to prepare for the elections, starting with 40 training sessions for principals as electoral officers in all eight education districts of the province during February.
The department is providing every principal with a 31-page training manual that covers every aspect of the elections, from the legislative framework to compiling voters’ roles, election processes and managing disputes.
The WCED has launched a three-phase campaign during February and early March to promote the elections.
The department has started by distributing more than one million leaflets for parents on the roles and responsibilities of SGBs.
Principals are collecting the leaflets as they attend training sessions and will distribute them via learners at schools.
The second phase of the campaign began on Monday, 9 February with advertisements in four dailies and 50 community newspapers. The advertisements urge parents to offer their skills, and stand for election, and to vote.
The campaign will conclude with a three-week radio advertising campaign on 18 stations carrying the same messages.
We have also developed a Mxit app that urges parents to vote and supplies further information on what SGBs are all about.
SGBs represent four components of the school community: parents, teachers, non-teaching staff and learners in Grades 8 to 12.
All parents and legal guardians with children registered at the school are eligible for election.
Parents will nominate and elect SGB members at a parents’ meeting called by the school for the elections.
Parents must complete a voter registration form and return it to the school for inclusion on the voters’ role.
Parents may seek nomination but may not nominate themselves. Parents must submit nominations at least five days before the election meeting.
Teachers, non-teaching staff and learners nominate and elect members at similar meetings. Schools will provide school communities with all relevant information.
We call on parents to attend the nominations and election meetings because they have to have a quorum of at least 15%. For example, at least 75 parents must attend if the school has 500 parents on its admissions register.
In the past, we have found that many schools have had to postpone meetings because they did not have quorums.
The higher the turnout and the greater the participation rate, the better chance the school has of electing an SGB that is best suited to meet the interests of their children.
The outgoing SGB will continue to perform its functions until the first meeting of the new SGB.
The new SGB must meet within five days after receiving notice from the electoral officer, to elect office bearers. The outgoing SGB must hand over to the new SGB within 10 days of the first meeting.
We have many examples of outstanding SGBs that have contributed significantly to improving the quality of education at their schools through their good governance.
The new SGBs will learn from their experience and from thorough training and support by our officials.
I thank our outgoing SGBs for all their hard work and look forward to working with our new SGBs as we continue to strive for well managed school providing quality education for all our children.