Feb 2012

Education: A call to parents to cast their votes

The next elections are scheduled to take place in March this year in all public schools throughout South Africa. The Department of Basic Education has dedicated the entire month of March to the elections.

It is important for all parents to be involved in the running of their children's school and the SGB is the ideal avenue to do so. It enables parents to play an active role in working with government to ensure quality education in their children's schools. 

Quality of education

The elections are vital in:

  • improving the quality of education
  • ensuring good governance
  • ensuring that schools serve the interests of the community and meet expectations of parents
  • assisting in spreading the cost of education across users and society as a whole, and
  • combating racism, sexism and all other forms of unfair discrimination and intolerance.

An SGB is made up of the parents, educators, non-teaching staff, learners (from Grade 8 and higher) and community members. The term of office is one year for learners and no more than three years for all other members.

School principals are automatic members of the SGB. The SGB may co-opt members with expertise in areas that may benefit the SGB and the school. Co-opted members, however, have no voting rights.

Key role

Governing bodies also have a key role to play in making policies relating to issues such as language, religious instruction, school fees and a code of conduct for learners. Such policies must allow all South African children the following:

  • to enter the schooling system
  • promote values of non-racialism nonsexism
  • help communities to respect and tolerate
    each other's religions and cultures, and
  • encourage children to speak some of the
    official languages.

Policies must also promote respect for children's rights and non-violent ways of solving problems.

The power to improve education lies with all of us. The Department calls on all department officials, teachers, students, parents and community members to make a commitment to a 'Code for Quality Education'.

The Department of Education has drawn up national guidelines for the election of SGBs, which have been distributed to schools and districts to assist each school to administer fair and democratic elections.

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