IS THE SCHOOL A PLAYGROUND FOR POLITICS?
Decentralisation of public school governance has been widely criticised by social scientists. Its critics in the main reflect on the contradictions and tensions in the application of policies which are supposed to emanate from the South African Schools Act (SASA-Act 84 of 1996) but more often than not stand in opposition to what was intended by SASA. This study may be viewed as a contemporary study since it investigates phenomenon within its real-life context where the parameters are not clearly evident, as such it will shed light on role-players’ perspectives on school governance.
This article will focus on how and why politics undermines the power of the School Governing Body (SGB).It will also explore the pressure the South African Democratic Union imposes on school governance and reveal the negative influence this has on school governance.
Our objective in this article is to :Report on the school role players’ perceptions in a sample of Gauteng public schools, regarding the part played by teacher unions in school governance.
The study involved data collection in six schools in the Gauteng province of South Africa.
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. Observation of the school and its surroundings since certain school based policies relate to the plant and its surroundings. The National quintile ranking was used to choose schools for the sample, schools were chosen according to poverty indicators (quintile) and resources available.
The data gathering technique used in this study was exploratory, with the purpose of finding out school role-players’ perceptions on school governance currently. This acted as an indicator role-players’ attitude to school governance and particularly the recent changes to school governance.
This study targets a specific population, namely the educators, principals, and parents who serve on the SGB as well as the Chief Education Specialist (CES) who support the school, they are studied in respect of the same problem. Interviews provide in-depth information about a specific issue or question because the information is not quantifiable, therefore it is called a qualitative research data gathering technique. 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. Codes were created as they emerge and then compared and contrasted against “existing versions”.
The results of the findings was that the school governing body, power to determine the Human Resource needs of the school namely the Employment of Educators (section 16(A) of the South African Schools Act) is a function restricted by an amendment.It is also negatively impacted upon by the South African Democratic Teachers Union (SADTU) by virtue of its political power which in effect undermined the school governing body’s decision-making power.