Johannesburg – Three months before the 45th anniversary of the 1976 Students Uprising, and as we launched the 2021 School Governing Body Elections (SGBs), I could not help but appreciate how much we, as a democratic government, have progressed in the realisation of the rights demanded by those selfless activists in that seminal year.
In a break with that dark, violent and racist history, the first SGB elections took place in our country in 1997 to ensure that communities, and parents in particular, played an active role in the design and management of the quality of education that our children received.
Our position on the election of SGBs, which will be completed at the end of this month, has always been that schools are and should always be active partners with parents and communities through democratic SGBs. To achieve this, the South African Schools Act 84 of 1996 requires that all public schools must establish SGBs that are democratically elected.
This principle, as stated in section 195 of the constitution, requires public administrators to encourage stakeholders to participate in decision-making processes in terms of those policies that impact on them.
That is why more than 5-million parents and guardians across the country – 1.3-million in Gauteng – will take to the polls to elect new members of the SGBs until the end of this month.
The SGB election is the third-largest after the national and provincial elections. In Gauteng, these elections began on March 15 and will conclude on April 30. The new members will take over once the elections have been declared free and fair at the end of the process.
One major and increasingly important purpose of SGBs is to connect the national government, provincial and local governments, as well as local educators, with the real and diverse world of local people in a way that is close to the community, accountable to it, and which has the authority to act.
SGBs SETTING ACADEMIC GOALS
By engaging their communities, parents, businesses, civic and community members, SGBs create a culture that supports schools in their main mission: raising learner achievement.
It is a fact that when parents and other members of the community get involved in school affairs, they send a valuable message to their children.
They show that they care about the learners’ success. The resulting benefit is that the children feel more confident.
Across the length and breadth of Gauteng, SGBs are successfully doing just that while performing a variety of key governance functions, such as setting academic goals, priorities, and policies; empowering the principals; and providing on-the-ground oversight and accountability for their school.
Our schools are a critical part of our communities.
Schools must engage those communities in order to thrive and prosper. Let us participate in the SGB elections and strengthen our schools’ democratic and accountability values.
• Lesufi is MEC for education in Gauteng.
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