New school governing bodies head from Howick

2014-07-11 00:00

HELPING schools to operate more efficiently. That’s the main challenge Paul Rencken has set himself following his appointment as KZN manager of the Federation of Governing Bodies of South African Schools (Fedsas).

“This means getting schools up to a level of managing where they are self-managing,” said Rencken (46). “And also telling parents on governing bodies what they can do to make a difference.”

Fedsas is a voluntary association of school governing bodies of public schools that supports education in these schools. It has a membership of just ­under 1 750 public schools.

Rencken said the management of a school rests in the governing body and the the 1996 Schools Act made it compulsory for parents to be involved, but parents still did not understand their function as governors.

Rencken, a Howick resident, speaks from experience, having spent nearly 10 years in governance roles at various schools before he was appointed a Fedsas deputy provincial manager last year.

“My role is helping schools and their management — not everyone understands the role of the governing bodies.”

“There is a three-way partnership between the school, the governing body and the governing body,” said Rencken, adding that while Fedsas occasionally crosses swords with the department over legal issues it also has input into education policy. “But our main function is to advise schools on that they can and can’t do legally and where they can operate more efficiently.”

In September, Fedsas will be holding a seminar on electronic media and their use in education to enable schools to make good decisions when it comes to implementation.

Rencken has taken over as provincial manager from André Cloete (71), who recently retired after interacting with school principals for a decade.

Cloete said principals are in “the awkward position of having no one to talk to or complain to.”

He said in the past a principal or teacher could simply pick up the phone if they had a problem “and an inspector would tell you what to do.

“Now you phone the department and nobody can give you an answer. Nobody wants to take responsibility.”

One of the “biggest problems” currently facing principals and school governing bodies (SGBs) in KwaZulu-Natal, according to Cloete, is the lack of support from the Education Department. “Even worse is unions telling the department what to do — that undermines decent education.”

Cloete said he would advise “all SGBs to belong to a governing body organisation of some sort” since they have the know-how.”

• Stephen.Coan@witness.co.za

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