Strong School Governing Bodies are one of the essential partners in our plan to improve education outcomes in the Western Cape.
The importance of SGBs should not be underestimated. The SGB represents all sectors of the school community: parents, educators, non-teaching staff and learners in Grades 8 – 12.
They have major responsibilities which they exercise on behalf of schools, including; determining the admission and language policies of schools and the code of conduct for learners, the drafting of the school budget and, with the support of parents, determining the schools’ annual fees.
Of crucial importance is the fact that the SGBs interview and nominate educators and principals for appointment by the WCED to schools. They also have a key role to play in building a culture of excellence in our schools.
Given these responsibilities, it is important that school communities take the upcoming SGB elections seriously – which are the biggest in the country after local and national government elections. The SGB elections at all schools in South Africa are due to begin on Thursday, 1 March 2012 and must be concluded by the end of the first school term (on 23 March 2012 for coastal provinces).
If we are to make Education BETTER TOGETHER then we need to ensure that school communities select the best possible candidates for their SGB.
That is why the WCED has put numerous plans in place to ensure a successful election process.
Our management plan for the elections includes the establishment of a Provincial Electoral Team, consisting of SGB associations and other stakeholders.
The Provincial Electoral Team works in partnership with electoral teams in the districts and at schools to ensure that all schools are ready for the upcoming elections.
School principals will officiate as electoral officers at a selected and/or neighbouring school. Training of electoral officers has already begun (started on Wednesday, 25 January 2012) and will be concluded by mid-February.
School electoral teams are currently finalising a voters’ roll of all eligible voters in each school. Elections take place at ageneralmeeting of the school community and a quorum of 15% of parents at the school is needed for the meeting to go ahead. If a quorum is not achieved, the election must be postponed and rescheduled.
Once the SGB election process has been completed at a school, and a new SGB appointed, the WCED will provide extensive training to the new SGBs so that they have the knowledge and skills they need to govern their school successfully.
This training is to take place between April and June 2012. The term of office for an SGB is three years (except for learners who serve a one year period).
I am excited to see this process unfold. However, it will not be a success if it does not have the commitment and enthusiasm of the whole school community.
That is why I urge all members of the school community to get involved in the SGB elections by either making themselves available to serve on the SGB or by nominating and voting for the most suitable candidates. Members of the community can also be co-opted to serve on the SGB, based on their experience or skill. These co-opted members do not have any voting rights.
Parents and school communities must realise that if we are to ensure excellence in our schools, then we need to build a strong culture of accountability at all levels – this begins with the Principal and the SGB of a school.
I strongly appeal to all parents to take this process seriously, be responsible for their child’s education, get involved in election meetings and support and encourage the work of their SGB to ensure their success.
If we do this, we can all make Education BETTER TOGETHER.