The role of school governing bodies in transforming education in South Africa : a study of selected secondary schools in the Tsomo district of Eastern Cape Province

Mkentane, Mziwamadoda Anderson (2003-12)

Thesis (MEd)--Stellenbosch University, 2003.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The year 1994 ushered in a new era in the education system of South Africa. For the first time in the history of the country all population groups were given a chance to participate in the affairs directly affecting them. To ensure that such a dream would be achieved, education needed to be transformed. This kind of transformation was envisaged to include all stakeholders in education. From the National Minister of Education down to the provinces and at the local level of ordinary public schools, all those who were considered to have a stake in education were to be given a chance to participate, especially through new forms of governance. The most significant of these at community level were school governing bodies. School governance was to be developed through participative structures. At local level parents, educators, non-educator staff members and learners, identified as the relevant stakeholders, were allowed to participate in the governance of their own schools. The principal, by the very position he/she holds, was an automatic member ex officio. All the other members could only become members by being elected to this governance structure. With the passing of the South African Schools Act (Act No. 84 of 1996), this new structure to delegate governance functions to all schools in the Republic of South Africa came into being. This marked the birth of School Governing Bodies (SGBs) for all schools. The researcher as a teacher and resident in the Eastern Cape Province became interested in the functioning of these newly formed governing bodies. The interest to carry out a systematic research project was stimulated by what the researcher experienced in the practical situation of schools in his environment: what he observed being done appeared to be different from what the legal policy frameworks suggest in order to achieve democratic participation by all stakeholders in all schools. In addition, studies during course work as part of a Masters degree programme in Educational Policy Studies made the researcher particularly aware analytically of concepts like transformation, democracy, governance, empowerment and stakeholders, especially as regards their application to school governance. This reinforced the researcher's desire to find out whether the SGBs in rural sernor secondary schools of Tsomo are really able to fulfill their roles using the democratic principles as part of the overall transformation of South Africa. To evaluate the role of the SGBs in transforming the education system through democratic governance, the researcher aimed to investigate aspects such as whether SGBs really existed in schools in a formally constituted way; i.e. whether all the stakeholder-components were included in these bodies, whether they had constitutions and if such constitutions were drawn up with reference to the country's Constitution and the SA Schools Act. Further questions were how these SGBs performed their duties (functions) and whether they arrived at decisions using democratic principles, such as voting on issues. It was the researcher's aim to assess whether the parent, non-educator staff members and the learner components were really playing an active role in these structures, such as at times when there might seem a deadlock in decision-making in the SGB. How did the role players perceive their different and new roles, and to what extent were the principal and educators empowering the other components as light-bearers. The research mainly aimed at discovering progress and problems of the SGBs in this rural area, chiefly in order to determine what kind of capacity building might be necessary to improve their functioning to achieve democratic governance through active participation in these structures. To do all this, the research follows five steps. Step one is to provide a very brief background history of main characteristics in the development of the education system up to 1994. Step two identifies and discusses the main concepts that are considered relevant to the study. Step three is to present a survey of relevant documents that gave rise to the establishment of the SGBs, including the NEPI reports (1992-3), the Hunter Report (1995), and the South African Schools Act of 1996 (Act No, 84 of 1996). In addition the importance of the Interim Constitution of 1993 (Act No. 200 of 1993) and the final Constitution of 1996 (Act No. 108 of 1996) are emphasised. Step four is an empirical investigation into the actual functioning of the SGBs in three senior secondary schools in the Tsomo district. These schools were investigated through using an interview schedule in which representatives of the five stakeholder components of the SGB were interviewed individually while a questionnaire was also used in the two senior secondary schools with hostels. The questions and responses for both the interview schedule and the two questionnaires are included as Appendices Two and Appendix Three. In addition, an extract from the South African Schools Act of 1996 (Act No, 84 of 1996) is included (Appendix One) showing only the important aspects of the Act in relation to the working of the SOB. Step five provides a summary, conclusions and recommendations regarding the functioning of SOBs in an area like Tsomo.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die jaar 1994 het 'n nuwe era vir die onderwysstelsel in Suid-Afrika ingelei. Vir die eerste keer in die land se geskiedenis is alle bevolkingsgroepe die geleentheid gegun om deel te neem in die besluite wat hulle raak. Om hierdie ideaal te verwesenlik, sou dit noodsaaklik wees om die onderwys te transformeer, o.a. deur alle rolspelers met 'n direkte belang in die onderwys die geleentheid vir demokratiese deelname te bied. Vanaf die Minister van Onderwys op nasionale vlak, tot by elke provinsie en selfs die plaaslike openbare skool is belanghebbendes geïdentifiseer en die geleentheid gegun om deel te neem in besluitneming, veral deur middel van nuwe strukture van beheer. Op gemeenskapsvlak is die belangrikste hiervan skoolbeheerliggame. Die doelwit was om skoolbeheer te ontwikkel deur middel van deelnemende strukture. Op plaaslike vlak is ouers, opvoeders, nie-opvoeder personeel en leerders geïdentifiseer as die legitieme belanghebbendes vir deelname in die beheer van hulle skole. Die skoolhoof, vanuit sy/haar amp (d.w.s. ex officio), is outomaties ook lid van die beheerliggaam. Elkeen van die ander belanghebbendes mag net lede word deur verkiesing tot die beheerliggaam. Die aanvaarding van die Suid-Afrikaanse Skolewet (Wet Nr. 84 van 1996) het dus nuwe strukture in die lewe geroep wat 'n mate van deelname in die beheer van hulle skool gedelegeer het aan gemeenskappe van alle openbare skole. Dit was die geboorte van Skool Beheerliggame (SBLs) vir alle skole. As opvoeder en inwoner van die Oos-Kaap Provinsie het die navorser met die instelling van SBLs begin belangstel in die funksionering van die nuut-gevormde beheerliggame in die streek. Die behoefte om 'n sistematiese navorsingsprojek uit te voer, is gestimuleer deur wat die navorser se persoonlike deelname in die praktiese situasie van die skole in sy omgewing: wat hy in die praktyk waargeneem het, het geblyk asof dit afwyk van sy vertolking van die relevante wetgewing en beleidsraamwerke se bedoelinge om demokratiese deelname in skoolbeheer te bewerkstellig. Verder het sy formele studies as deel van 'n Meesterprogram in Opvoedingsbeleidstudie die navorser beïnvloed om sterker analitiese aandag te gee aan sleutelbegrippe soos transformasie, demokrasie, beheer, bemagtiging en belanghebbende, veral met betrekking tot skoolbeheer. Dit alles het die navorser se belangstelling gewek om ondersoek in te stel na die SBLs in senior sekondêre skole in die landelike gebied van Tsomo: slaag hulle daadwerklik daarin om hulle rolle te vervul om demokratiese beginsels toe te pas as deel van die algehele transformasie van Suid-Afrika? Om die rol van SBLs te evalueer in onderwystransformasie deur demokratiese skoolbeheer, het die navorser die volgende ondersoek: of formeel gekonstitueerde SBLs in die geselekteerde skole bestaan, d.w.s. of elke belanghebbende komponent wel ingesluit is; of elke SBL 'n grondwet besit, opgestel in pas met die Grondwet van Suid-Afrika en die SA Skolewet. Verdere doelwitte was om probleme te identifiseer wat die SBLs ondervind met die uitvoering van hulle funksies asook om te bepaal of hul besluitnemingsprosesse op demokratiese beginsels staatmaak, soos die reg om te stem. Nog 'n doel was om te evalueer of die drie komponente wat, in teenstelling met die skoolhoof en opvoeders, nuut toetree tot deelname in besluitneming, d.w.s. die ouers, nie-opvoeder personeel en leerder-komponent, wel aangemoedig word om aktief deel te neem, veral in gevalle wanneer besluitneming op die dooie punt beland. Ook belangrik was om die verskeie rolspelers se begrip van hul nuwe rolle te dokumenteer, asook of die skoolhoof en opvoederslede die ander drie komponente doelbewus bemagtig as ligdraers. Die algehele doel was om die vordering te identifiseer sowel as die probleme van SBLs in hierdie landelike gebied, met die oog op aanbevelings vir kapasiteitsbou om die effektiewe funksionering van SBLs te bevorder - en daardeur die ontwikkeling van demokratiese skoolbeheer deur aktiewe deelname. Om die navorsingsdoelwitte te bereik, is vyf stappe gevolg. Eers, as kontekstualisering is 'n kort historiese oorsig van prominente eienskappe in die ontwikkeling van die onderwysstelsel tot 1994 geskets. Stap twee identifiseer en bespreek relevante kernbegrippe. Derdens word 'n oorsig aangebied van belangrike dokumente in die ontstaan van beleid t.o.v. SBLs, insluitend die NEPI-verslae (1992- 3), die Hunter-Verslag (1995), en die Suid-Afrikaanse Skolewet van 1996 (Wet Nr. 84 van 1996). Daarby word die belangrikheid van die Tussentydse Grondwet van 1993 (Wet Nr. 200 van 1993) en die finale Grondwet van 1996 (Wet Nr. 108 van 1996) beklemtoon. Stap vier is 'n empiriese ondersoek van die praktiese funksionering van die SBLs in die drie geselekteerde skole in die Tsomo-distrik, gebasseer op 'n onderhoudskedule waarvolgens verteenwoordiges van die vyf onderskeie belanghebbende komponente individueelondervra is. Verder, is 'n aparte vraelys ook benut om sekere inligting te bekom by die twee senior sekondêre skole met koshuise. Stap vyf is die opsomming, gevolgtrekkings en aanbevelings t.o.v. die funksionering van SBLs in die Tsomo-distrik. Ter ondersteuning van die studie word uittreksels van die SA Skolewet van 1996 (Wet Nr. 64 van 1996) in Bylae A ingesluit. Die vrae sowel as response op die onderhoudskedule en vraelyste word in Bylae 2 en Bylae 3 gedokumenteer.

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