Time for school elections

2009-06-01 00:00

SCHOOL governing bodies (SGBs) serving in schools around KwaZulu-Natal are fast approaching their expiry date.

The new MEC of Education, Senzo Mchunu, was at Linpark High School in Pietermaritzburg on Friday to launch the fifth cycle of the SGB elections as his department gets ready to execute the election programme for 2009.

The SGB elections take place every three years.

Parents, teachers, pupils and non-teaching staff in schools are all eligible to serve on statutory body and are afforded the opportunity to elect individuals who will serve on the SGB.

The first of these elections was held 12 years ago and Mchunu described this as a significant milestone in the process of advancing the participation of stakeholders and role-players in education.

“In its preamble, the South African Schools Act of 1996 emphasises, among other things, the need to uphold the rights of all learners, parents and educators and to promote their acceptance of responsibility for the organisation, governance and funding of schools in partnership with the state,” said Mchunu.

But he added that this can be realised only with fully functional SGBs.

The launch, which drew a large attendance from union representatives, SGB associations, principals and education officials, was run in collaboration with a national event which ushered in the SGB election period.

In KZN the election period will run from June to July.

The South African Democratic Teachers’ Union is among the organisations which pledged their support for free and fair elections in schools.

Regional chair Chris Ndlela said the union is committed to seeing the principle of poor leadership eliminated, and it believes that SGBs should be part of the driving engine that ensures schools are pockets of excellence.

Lyn Ploos van Amstel, the trustee for the KZN Governing Body Foundation, urged parents not to allow the minority to speak for the majority.

Speaking to The Witness, Ploos van Amstel said South Africa does not have a rich culture of parental involvement in schools when there is clear indication that schools with strong governing body structures were the schools that did well.

Mchunu emphasised that the election exercise should be conducted so that there is no disruption of teaching and learning.

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IF you’ve ever wondered what exactly the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) does after the election, the provincial manager in province, Ntomfuthi Masinga, said they do the same thing firemen do when there is no fire - and that is to oil their machines.

Masinga and her team will part of the task team which will oversees the fifth cycle of the Student Governing Body (SGB) elections which were officially launched at Linpark High School on Friday.

“We actually never have a quiet period because part of our mandate as a commission is to assist all state funded institutions. We provide support as well as ensure that electoral regulations are within internationally accepted norms and standards.”

She said this includes overseeing that electoral processes are free and fair for local government, the Department of Transport, the Department of Education for their SGB elections as well as Student Representative Council elections in tertiary institutions.

The IEC will largely offer technical support, such as ballot books and boxes.

For the SGB elections, 27 000 sites require regulation as opposed to 19 000 site for the national elections.

School principals prepare the voters role for all categories based on the admission book for parents, the time book (register) for teachers and non-teaching staff.

RCL members elect two of their representatives.

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