The governance of public special schools in the Western Cape : a comparative analysis of Jan Kriel School and Thembalethu ELSEN School

Jonas, Patrick Thando (2005-03)

Thesis (MPA (School of Public Management and Planning))--University of Stellenbosch, 2005.


This aim of this research was to study and bring to the fore the way ELSEN schools are being governed in the Western Cape. The hope is for more research to be done in this area of public policy which could result in the improvement of school administration. The manner in which education is organised, governed and funded impacts directly on the process and outcomes of learning and teaching. However, good governance assumes that public service delivery is the implementation of public policies aimed at providing concrete services to the people. The underlying problem here is the fact that some schools seemed to be governed better than others, while the regulatory and funding policy is the same. The key questions that the researcher sought to answer in this research are the following: • Is the Section 21, South African Schools Act (Act 84 of 1996) being properly implemented and does it enhance the governance of ELSEN schools? • Why is the governance of ELSEN schools better in some schools than in others if they are based on the same governance provisions and administered by the same department? • What should therefore be done to ensure effective and efficient school governance in all the ELSEN schools in the Western Cape? The methodology used was a comparative analysis through a sampling case study between Jan Kriel School, a fully developed and well-resourced school for epileptics and specific learning disabilities in Kuils River, and Thembalethu special school for the physically disabled, a disadvantaged poor school from Gugulethu. The research investigated how the school governing bodies (SGB) of these schools are structured, how they function in terms of the regulations provided in the South African Schools Act (Act 84 of 1996) as well as broadly the system of school governance of the ELSEN schools in the Western Cape. Appendix E shows a list of all the ELSEN schools in the Western Cape Education Department (WCED). The two cases of governance at the Jan Kriel and Thembalethu schools have therefore been studied as a microcosm of the ELSEN schools in the entire Western Cape. The researcher wanted to compare and analyze how the well-resourced and advantaged ELSEN schools and the disadvantaged poor schools implement the provisions of the South African Schools Act relevant to ELSEN school governance in order to achieve better governance and good management. The crucial issues pertaining to the effective governance of ELSEN schools as proposed during the preliminary study established in the research and confirmed in the findings as the key variables that determine the level of school governance are the following: • Financial resources; • Trained SGB officials; • Proper planning and good administration; • Effective involvement of parents in particular and all the other stakeholders; • Discipline and a code of ethics. In the final analysis, some solutions with a view to solving this problem have been suggested by the researcher in the form of recommendations. However, as indicated in the conclusion, the final responsibility to expand the scope of these findings and to oversee the implementation of these recommendations rests with the WCED.

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