M. Pather, P. du Plessis

Univesity of Johannesburg (SOUTH AFRICA)
Amendments to the South African Schools Act-SASA (Act 84 of 1996), have changed public school governance. It has affected how schools function, School Governing Bodies (SGB) as the major role-players in school governance have experienced its effect. We explore the perceptions of SGB members, to establish how school governance in Gauteng (a province in South Africa) has changed since 1996. We then investigate plausible reasons for the State reneging on what SASA promised namely to distribute school governance to local school communities.

This article will focus on how and why public school governance displays centralist characteristics and yet public school governance in South Africa is supposed to be shared with school communities.

Our objectives in this article are to report on the perceptions of SGBs in a sample of Gauteng public schools related to the rights, obligations and functions of members regarding the governance of a public school; and investigate the ostensible inclination of the state to question and doubt the authority and capabilities of school governing bodies, to the extent of taking steps to limit the involvement and powers of role-players concerning the appointment of educators, admission of learners and effective financial management.

The study involved data collection in six schools public schools in the Gauteng province..

Semi-structured interviews with the principal, educator, the learner representative, the Chairperson and other parent representatives, who serve on the School Governing Body were conducted. The National quintile ranking was used to choose schools for the sample schools were chosen according to poverty indicators (quintile) and resources available.

Interviews were conducted with a specific population, namely the educators, principals, and parents who serve on the SGB as well as the education officials who support the school.The semi-structured interviews provided in-depth information. To ensure a greater degree of reliability the study also used descriptive statistics which were applied to certain categories of questions.

The rationale for the selection of the questionnaire and interviews was that the questionnaire would provide profile and demographic information which would be compared and statistics would be analysed to validate data from the interviews. Themes were created as they emerged and then compared and contrasted against “existing versions”.

The results of the findings was the school governing body’s (SGB), power to determine the admission policy of a public school (section 5(5) of South African Schools Act),is a function restricted by National Policy and provincial action which in effect give school governing bodies, decision-making power that is limited.

This qualitative study distinctly showed that a revised model of school governance should be developed to address the major flaws in the present model of school governance.

The study recommends that An Area Advisory Council (AAC) be established in terms of the South African Schools Act, (Act 84 of 1996) for every school area or Education district, namely the town or geographical area closest to the cluster of schools to act as a resource.