The role of school governing bodies in rural areas in the Northern Province

Tshifura, Vhonani Willbert (2002-03)

Thesis (MEd)--University of Stellenbosch, 2002.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: In April 1994, after South Africa's first democratic elections, a new era in education commenced. The education system was transformed to a unitary system and a programme of legislation was launched aimed at promoting democratic ideals and practices. Of particular importance to schools was the South African Schools Act (Act No. 84 of 1996) by which significant powers were granted to School Governing Bodies (SGBs) at local level In addition to the school principal, a SGB was to be composed of elected representatives of four main stakeholder groups: educators, non-educator staff, learners (in Grade 8 or above) and parents. The powers and responsibilities allocated by the Act indicated that the introduction of SGBs had far-reaching potential to improve school effectiveness and, more importantly, to contribute to the growth of democracy in South Africa. The writer of this study was an educator, resident in the Northern Province and with significant first-hand teaching experience in schools in rural and semi-rural areas of the province, as well as experience as a member of a SGB. This experience had made him keenly aware of the role that SGBs could play in improving schools with which he was familiar. The purpose of the research was therefore to investigate the role of SGBs in rural areas of the Northern Province. To evaluate the role of SGBs, the researcher aimed to investigate aspects such as whether SGBs were in fact properly established, e.g. through the conduct of proper elections, how stakeholders perceived their roles, what functions were typically performed by SGBs, the perceptions of roleplayers about significant progress and or problems, and what needs for help or training were experienced. In particular the research aimed to discover whether there were particular needs associated with SGBs in the rural areas in order to determine what sort of capacity-building was required. The approach used in the investigation followed four main steps. Firstly, a literature study provided the basis for analysis and clarification of important concepts. Secondly, the legal and policy context was described, paying particular attention to the specific legislation and documents that frame school governance in South Africa. Thirdly, the writer examined the context of Northern Province, describing four stages in the history of educational administration and focusing on rural communities in particular. The fourth perspective was gained by an empirical study of a sample of ten secondary schools in the rural and semi-rural areas around the town of Thohoyandou. The method of investigation was to use questionnaires and interviews to obtain data from representatives of all five stakeholder groups in SGBs at each of these schools. The findings led to the conclusion that SGBs were largely well-established in the rural areas of Northern Province. They were widely accepted as legitimate and worthwhile structures but there were specific important needs for training and capacity-building. Perhaps the most important finding was that parents in rural areas appear to find it very difficult to become involved in the educational life of schools and are especially reluctant to serve on SGBs. Reasons for this apparent apathy were found to lie in problems of illiteracy and feelings of ignorance or inferiority. These conclusions enabled the researcher to make specific recommendations for improving the role and functioning of SGBs. Recommendations were made for improving the role of SGBs as a whole as well as for capacity-building relating to the needs of each stakeholder group. A particular emphasis of these recommendations was on ways in which the unique needs of rural communities can be met. This was seen as a priority in order to improve education in secondary schools in these historically underdeveloped areas and through that, promote the growth of democracy in the rural areas of Northern Province.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Suid-Afrika se eerste demokratiese verkiesing op 26 April 1994 het 'n nuwe era vir die onderwys ingelei. Een unitêre en eenvormige geïntergreerde onderwysstelsel is gevestig en 'n program geloods van nuwe wetgewing gerig op die bevordering van demokratiese ideale en praktyke. Van besondere belangrikheid vir skole was die Suid-Afrikaanse Skolewet (Wet Nr 84 van 1996) wat bepaalde magte aan skole op plaaslike vlak afgewentel het deur die instelling van Skool Beheerliggame (SBLs). Saam met die skoolhoof, was SBLs saamgestel deur verkose verteenwoordigers van vier hoof belanghebbende groepe: opvoeders, nie-opvoederpersoneel, leerders (in Graad 8 of bo) en ouers. Die magte en verantwoordelikhede deur die Wet aan SBLs geallokeer was 'n aanduiding dat die instelling van SBLs verreikende potensiaal gehad het om skooleffektiewiteit te bevorder sowel as 'n belangrike bydrae te maak tot die ontwikkeling van demokrasie in Suid-Afrika. Die skrywer van die studie was 'n opvoeder, woonagtig In die Noordelike Provinsie en met eerstehandse ervaring van onderwys in skole in die landelike gebiede van die provinsie. Hy het ook ervaring gehad as lid van 'n SBL. Sy ondervinding het hom skerp bewus gemaak van die moontlike rol van SBLs in die verbetering en opheffing van skole waarmee hy vertroud was. Die doel van die navorsing was dus om die rol van SBLs in die landelike gebiede van die Noordelike Provinsie te ondersoek. Om die rol van SBLs te evalueer het die navorser besluit om aspekte te ondersoek soos die vestiging van SBLs, bv. of hulle welordentlik gevestig was, o.a. deur die bepaalde verkiesingsprosedures, die persepsies van belanghebbendes oor hulle eie rolle, die tipiese funksies deur SBLs gerig, die rolspelers se eie persepsies van beduidende vordering en/of probleme in die funksionering van hulle SBLs, en enige opvallende behoeftes. Die navorsing het veral gepoog om agter te kom of daar spesifieke eiesoortige behoeftes t.O.V. SBLs in gemeenskappe in landelike gebiede was. Om sulke behoeftes te kon bepaal sou bydrae tot die ontwikkeling van geskikte programme vir kapasiteitsbou by SBLs in landelike gebied. Die ondersoek het uit vier hoofstappe bestaan. Eerstens het In literatuurstudie bygedra tot die ontleding en verduideliking van belangrike konsepte. Tweedens is die wetlike en beleidskonteks beskryf, met besondere verwysing na die raamwerk van spesifieke wetgewing en dokumente wat skoolbeheer in Suid-Afrika bepaal Derdens het die skrywer die konteks van Noordelike Provinsie omskryf, insluitend 'n beskrywing van vier fases in die geskiedenis van onderwysbeheer Daar is ook veralop die eienskappe van landelike gemeenskappe gefokus. Die vierde perpsektief was deur 'n empiriese ondersoek verkry, gebasseer op 'n seleksie van tien sekondêre skole in die landelike en semi-landelike gebied rondom Thohoyandou. Die ondersoek het gebruik gemaak van vraelyste en onderhoude met verteenwoordigers van elkeen van die belanghebbende groepe. Daardeur is gegewens bekom van al vyf belanghebbende groepe by elkeen van die tien skole. Die bevindinge het tot die gevolgtrekking gelei dat SBLs reeds grootendeels gevestig was in die landelike gebiede van Noordelike Provinsie. Dit het geblyk dat SBLs wyd aanvaar was as legitieme instellings, maar dat daar spesifieke behoeftes was vir opleiding en kapasiteitsbou. Moontlik die belangrikste bevinding was dat ouers in die landelike gemeenskappe dit blykbaar baie moeilik vind om betrokke te raak in die opvoedingstaak en lewe van skole en veral skaam is om op SBLs te dien. Redes wat vir hierdie skynbaar apatetiese gedrag aangevoer is, was dat die meerderheid ouers ongeletterd is en dat gevoelens van onkundigheid, onbekwaamheid en minderwaardigheid ouers weerhou om deel te neem .. Bogenoemde gevolgtrekkings van die studie het die navorser in staat gestelom spesifieke aanbevelings te maak t.o.v. die ontwikkeling en verbetering van die funksionering van SBLs. Aanbevelings is gemaak om die rol van die SBL in die algemeen te verbeter, sowel as t.o.v. kapasiteitsbou gerig op die spesifieke behoeftes van bepaalde belanghebbende groepe. Die aanbevelings het in besonder klem laat val op die soeke na wyses waardeur die unieke behoeftes van landelike gemeenskappe aangespreek kan word. Hierdie behoefte word as 'n prioriteit beskou om onderwysverbetering in sekondêre skole in hierdie histories onderontwikkelde gebiede te versnel. Daardeur sou die ontwikkeling van demokrasie in die landelike gebiede van Noordelike Provinsie ook versterk en bevorder word.

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