SGB elections 2018: The WC prepares for South Africa's second biggest election
Schools and the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) are preparing for the biggest elections after the national, provincial and local government elections, namely the election of governing bodies throughout the province.
Governing bodies 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 2018. Schools will advise parents when the elections will take place at their particular schools.
The South African Schools Act (SASA), 1996 (Act 84 of 1996) gives governing bodies 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 governing body members are not required to have formal qualifications, we are urging parents with skills in bookkeeping, accounting and legal services in particular as well as those who are interested in, and passionate about education, 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 governing bodies have to make, and the responsibilities they are entrusted with.
Duties - What are the duties of a governing body?
According to the SASA, the responsibilities of the governing body include:
- deciding on an admissions policy for the school
- deciding on the language policy of the school
- deciding on what religious practices will be followed at the school;
- formulating the school's constitution and mission statement;
- formulating the code of conduct for learners which sets out disciplinary procedures;
- budget and financial management;
- recommending staff appointments; and
- supporting the principal, teachers and other staff.
The term of office will be three years.
Training - What kind of training is provided?
After the elections, the WCED will provide governing bodies with comprehensive training and support by officials who specialise in school management and governance.
The WCED is working with schools to prepare for the elections, starting with 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 comprehensive training manual that covers all aspects of the elections, from the legislative framework to compiling voters' rolls, election processes and managing disputes.
The WCED has launched a campaign during February and early March to promote the elections.
The department is distributing more than one million leaflets to schools during February for parents on the roles and responsibilities of governing bodies.
We are also using social media and conducting an extensive radio campaign.
Representation - Who do governing bodies represent?
As already mentioned, governing bodies represent the whole school community, namely, parents, teachers, non-teaching staff - and learners from Grades 8 to 12.
All parents and legal guardians with children registered at the school are eligible for election.
Election process - How do the elections work?
Parents will nominate and elect governing body members at a parents' meeting called by the school for the elections.
Parents complete a nomination form which they submit to the school. A nomination must be seconded by another parent and the nominee must accept the nomination before the forms are submitted to the school.
Parents may seek nomination but may not nominate themselves. Parents must submit nominations at least seven (7) 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.
It is essential that parents attend the nomination and election meetings because they have to have a quorum of at least 10%. For example, at least 50 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 a quorum,
The higher the turnout and the greater the participation rate, the better chance the school has of electing a governing body that is best suited to meet the interests of their children.
Handover - How does the old governing body hand over to the new one?
The outgoing governing body will continue to perform its functions until the first meeting of the new governing body.
The new governing body must meet within seven (7) days after receiving notice from the electoral officer, to elect office bearers. The outgoing governing body must hand over to the new governing body within fourteen (14) days of the first meeting.
We have many examples of outstanding governing bodies that have contributed significantly to improving the quality of education at their schools through their good governance.
The new governing bodies will learn from their experience and from thorough training and support by our officials. I encourage them to please put the interests of the children and the improvement of education first, and work together with the school principal and staff to achieve this.
I thank our outgoing governing bodies for all their hard work and look forward to working with our new governing bodies as we continue to strive for well-managed schools that provide quality education for all our children.