There appears to be a perception from the African National Congress (ANC) that school governing bodies hold too much power when it comes to the running of schools, according to the national CEO of the Governing Body Foundation, Tim Gordon.
The topic was amongst those brought up at the weekend’s ANC National General Council (NGC), where a resolution was taken to review the sphere of influence and power held by school governing bodies. Along with the possible introduction of inspectors at schools, these resolutions could form part of a new proposed amendment bill from the Basic Education Department.
Gordon said his organisation, which is opposed to the amendments, believed the ruling party are going ‘overboard’ with the matter. He explained that governing bodies were introduced post-Apartheid as part of a ‘democratic change’ as a means of moving away from the authoritarian style of education of the past.
“What came out of those discussions (to introduce governing bodies) was that there need be a partnership between state, communities, parents, learners and educators and give them all a say in what that the system is doing.
“It very much needed to fit in with the democratic changes in the country as a whole. The biggest part of those changes were to put in place governing bodies, which would represent the community and be able to have quite a significant say in how schools are managed and governed,” he explained.
Amongst the most notable possible amendments are that the governing bodies will have no say in staff appointments; meaning it won’t be able to contribute to the decision making process in appointing new principals, deputies or heads of department. Those appointments will now be made solely by of the head of the education department in the province, without reference to parents, the community and the governors or the rest of the community.
The Governing Body Foundation has insisted such a decision would be a very bad step on the part of the ANC.
Another area of control the ANC are reportedly targeting is the power governing bodies currently hold in deciding admission criteria, the language to be used in school, the subjects of choice, the uniform and the religious affiliation of the school.
“That can completely change the nature of a school, and we believe that would be a sad situation and would certainly have a negative effect on schools.
If you take all of these things into consideration, we believe it will turn the governing bodies into nothing other than a fundraising committee,” he added. VOC (Mubeen Banderker)