Knowledge is Power: The boundaries of school governance

Knowledge is Power by Dr J Naidoo

There are always conflicting views regarding the boundaries between school governance and school management.  The Department of Education provides guidelines to assist principals and school governing bodies (SGBs) in this regard.  The South African Schools Act (SASA), Act 84 of 1996 elucidates the various duties of SGBs in greater detail.

There are section 20 and 21 functions as per chapter two of SASA.  The section 20 functions are carried out by all SGBs.  Some of which are as follows:

  • Determine the times of the school day.
  • The maintenance of the school property, buildings and grounds.
  • To recommend the appointment of educator and non-teaching staff to the HOD.
  • To raise funds for the school.

These are some of the section 20 functions as determined by the minister of Basic Education in consultation with the relevant organisations and stakeholders.  In fulfilling the requirements as required by the above duties, the members of the SGB must always be guided by and respect the relevant policies, circulars and acts that regulate such duties.

The fundamental principle that all SGB members should bear in mind when attempting to accomplish a task is that the best interest of the child must be borne in mind at all times.  The SGB should act as a reasonable man would, taking into account the legal frameworks regulating the various duties.

To achieve this, SGBs and the staff of the school should work in harmony.  Personal differences and personal interests should take second stage.  Members of the SGB should not be there for personal gain and personal glory.  The best interest of the school must always be promoted.  The name of the school must be promoted through the various activities of the SGB, such as cultural events, fund raisers, and workshops.

The various stakeholders should view the SGB as a vital stakeholder in the life of the school. SGBs have a lot to offer public schooling in our communities.  There are many schools that are functioning well because of the positive attitude of their SGB.  These SGBs need to network with other schools to share best practices for the benefit of the wider community. It is important to promote and uphold the phrase ‘sharing is caring.’ Comments and suggestions can be forwarded to [email protected]

Dr J Naidoo

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