With schools in the Western Cape preparing for or having already hosted their School Governing Body (SGB) elections during this month, it seems the process is easier for primary schools than it is for high schools.
These elections are held every three years, and the SGB represents all sectors of the school community, including parents, teachers, non-teaching staff and pupils from Grade 8 to Grade 12.
The Western Cape MEC for Education, Debbie Schafer, urged parents to get involved with the nomination and election of members “to ensure the school serves the best interest 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 are particularly useful, given the kinds of decisions that governing bodies have to make, and the responsibilities they are entrusted with,” Ms Schafer said.
She added that the South African Schools Act lists the responsibilities of a SGB, as having decision-making powers on the school’s admission policy, language policy, which religious practices will be followed, formulating its constitution and mission statement, the code of conduct and disciplinary procedures, the budget and financial management, recommending staff ap-
pointments, and supporting the principal, teachers and other staff.
Michael Davids, the principal of Blossom Street Primary School in Bridgetown, said parents at his school are eager to serve on the SGB.
“Three of our outgoing SGB members were elected to serve again. Two ‘new’ parents were elected as well. I am quite elated that the two parents joined the SGB, so that we can have a fresh take on it.
“Our parents were well informed about the process, and our parents responded well. The election process started well before the actual election, and our electoral officer, Beverley Daniels, the principal of Athlone North Primary School, did a sterling job. Before we introduced Ms Daniels, we also did advocacy around the school’s planning for the year, and this also helped,” Mr Davids said.
Dawn Crowie, principal of Garlandale High School, said their school’s SGB elections would be held on Thursday March 15.
She is hoping that they will have a quorum, because transport is always a challenge for the parents, as most of the pupils at the school do not live in the area.
“In the past, parents were not eager to serve on the governing body. This could be because they feel they do not have the necessary skills to serve on it. However, they do not have to have a skill to serve. Another challenge we face, is that high school pupils do not only have one teacher for all their subjects, like it mostly is in primary school. High school pupils are also not eager to introduce their parents to one another, as it might be considered not cool. The latter makes it difficult for parents to really know one another, and that makes it a challenge when parents have to nominate a representative to serve on the SGB.
“The Western Cape Education Department does offer training for incoming SGB members, but we also do our own bit of training and orientation for a new governing body,” Ms Crowie said.
Ms Schafer said the outgoing governing body would continue to perform its functions until the first meeting of the new governing body.
“The new governing body must meet within seven 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 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.
“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,” she said.