Investigating gaps in the application of financial management systems by schools receiving section 21 funding : case study for Mthatha education district schools - Eastern Cape province

Makrwede, Fundiswa (2012-12)

Thesis (MPA)--Stellenbosch University, 2012.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Following significant changes in legislation since the enactment of The Constitution of South Africa, 1996, and also accelerated by the ratification of the South African School Act of 1996, the array of services delegated to schools has placed an ever greater responsibility on school governing bodies and principals. Key to those responsibilities is the capacity to manage school finances. Although the South African Schools Act gives schools freedom to exercise their authority in managing school finances, along with this goes the responsibility to maintain with due regard proper accountability and control over the expenditure of public funds. This investigative research study looked at the extent to which the financial management systems employed in schools in utilizing Section 21 funding comply with relevant legislative and policy framework. In terms of financial management, schools are divided into two categories. There are Section 20 schools whose budget is centralized and managed by the Department of Education. Then there are Section 21 schools whose budget is decentralized to schools and these schools have sovereignty in managing their financial resources in compliance with relevant legislation, policies and procedures. A non-empirical study was undertaken which reviewed and analyzed literature on a financial management legislative framework as well as systems and procedures of financial management applicable to public institutions in general and those that relate specifically to schools. Subsequent to that, an empirical investigation was conducted. A questionnaire was issued to 72 principals who formed the sample of the study. The sample represented 21.3% of the total number of Section 21 Schools in the district of Mthatha. The questionnaire was administered to solicit the extent to which principals understand and apply the legislation, policies and procedures that underpin financial management systems in schools. Focus group interviews were held with school finance committees. These discussions were used to collect a wider range of information and insight on how schools manage financial resources. A qualitative financial documentary analysis was conducted in four schools. To achieve a holistic understanding of the research problem in-depth interviews were also conducted with district officials. The study revealed that, there is indeed a noteworthy divergence between the directives of the applicable financial policies and financial management practices in the majority of schools. The most critical deviations identified include, absence of clear policy directives on procurement procedures and financial controls, poor financial recording and lack of clarity on the roles and responsibilities of different financial structures. The key recommendation of the study is the establishment of an internal audit unit within the district which will serve as a basis of the fiscal oversight processes for schools. Since this unit will work closely with schools, this will advance significant improvements in financial accountability, systems of internal control in school and general financial administration processes. This unit will advance ongoing support in the form of training, monitoring and mentoring of the governing bodies and principals to inculcate strong financial leadership in schools.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: As gevolg van betekenisvolle verandering in wetgewing sedert die promulgasie van die S.A. Grondwet in 1996, en bespoedig deur die bekragtiging van die Suid-Afrikaanse Skolewet van 1996, word ’n uiteenlopende verskeidenheid bevoegdhede tans aan skole toegewys. Dit plaas toenemende verantwoordelikheid in die hande van beheerliggame en skoolhoofde. Aan die kern hiervan lê die bevoegdheid om skoolfinansies te bestuur. Alhoewel die Suid-Afrikaanse Skolewet vryheid aan skole verleen om hulle gedelegeerde mag betreffende finansies na goeddunke uit te oefen, gaan dit gepaard met verantwoordelikheid om omsigtigheid aan die dag te lê en aanspreeklikheid vir die aanwending van openbare fondse te aanvaar. Hierdie ondersoekende studie het nagevors in watter mate die finansiële bestuurstelsel wat skole gebruik om Seksie 21-befondsing te benut, voldoen aan die vereistes van die relevante wetgewing en voorgeskrewe beleidsraamwerk. Skole word, volgens finansiële bestuursreëls, in twee kategorieë verdeel. Daar is Seksie 20-skole, wie se begrotings gesentraliseer en deur die Departement van Onderwys bestuur word. Daar is ook Seksie 21-skole wie se begrotings gedesentraliseer is. Laasgenoemde skole besit dus die volwaardige reg om hul finansiële hulpbronne self te bestuur; solank dit voldoen aan voorgeskrewe wetgewing, beleid en prosedure. ’n Nie-empiriese studie is onderneem om die toepaslike literatuur oor finansiële bestuur en die betrokke wetgewingsraamwerk in oënskou te neem. Verder is die sisteme en finansiële bestuursprosedures wat betrekking het op openbare instellings in die algemeen, en op skole in die besonder, ook ondersoek. Hierna is ’n empierise ondersoek gedoen. ’n Vraelys is aan 72 skoolhoofde, die monster vir die ondersoek, gerig. Dié monster het 21.3% van die totale aantal Seksie 21-skole in die Mthatha-distrik verteenwoordig. Die vraelys was sodanig saamgestel en geadministreer dat dit die nodige inligting sou bekom om te kan bepaal tot watter mate skoolhoofde wetgewing, beleid en prosedure, wat finansiële bestuurstelsels in skole ondersteun, verstaan en toepas. Gefokusde groep-onderhoude is met skole se finanskomitees gevoer. Hierdie besprekings is aangewend om ’n wyer reeks inligting en insigte te bekom oor hoe skole hulle finasiele hulpbronne bestuur. ’n Kwalitatiewe dokumentêre analise van vier skole se finansiële state is uitgevoer. Om ’n meer omvattende begrip van die navorsingsproblematiek te bekom, is in diepte onderhoude, op ’n een-tot-een basis, ook met distriksamptenare gevoer. Dit het aangedui dat daar inderdaad, by ’n meerderheid skole, ten opsigte van die voorgeskrewe finansiële beleid en bestuur, noemenswaardig uiteenlopende toepassing van riglyne was. Die mees kritieke afwykings geïdentifiseer, sluit in: gebrek aan duidelike beleidsriglyne oor aanskaffingsprosedure en finansiële beheer, swak boekhouding en onduidelikheid oor die verpligtings en verantwoordelikhede van die verskillende finansiële strukture. Die studie se sleutelaanbeveling is dat ’n interne ouditeenheid vir die distrik tot stand gebring moet word. Dit sal die ruggraat vorm vir die fiskale toesighoudingsproses vir die betrokke skole. Aangesien hierdie ouditeenheid nou saam met skole sal werk, sal dit tot betekenisvolle verbetering van interne finansiële beheerstelsels van skole lei en beter algemene finansiële beheer en administratiewe aanspreeklikheid tot gevolg hê. Hierdie eenheid sal deurlopend, deur middel van opleiding, monitering en mentorskap aan bestuursliggame en skoolhoofde, ondersteuning verleen. Sodoende sal ’n kultuur van sterk finansiële leierskap in skole gevestig word.

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