Provincial education minister Debbie Schäfer has highlighted the importance of the full and thorough handover process of newly-elected school governing bodies.
In a statement, Schäfer said the South African Schools Act of 1996 gives governing bodies considerable powers to govern schools as part of the key structures of our democracy.
“Governing bodies represent all sectors of the school community, including parents, teachers, non-teaching staff and learners in Grades 8 to 12,” she explained.
“With school governing body (SGB) elections taking place across the country this month, it is imperative that principals ensure that they fully facilitate the governing body handover process to the newly elected governing body.”
The provincial education department has issued a circular that introduces guidelines for the handover process from the outgoing to the newly elected governing body, Schäfer added.
The principal is the official representative of the head of the department while serving on the governing body. “He or she is therefore obliged to ensure that there are adequate administrative measures in place aimed at sustaining the administrative and records management processes,” she noted.
“The principal must facilitate the handover process which must take place within 14 days of the first meeting of the new governing body. The principal must conduct the handover process by officially providing all relevant governance files, including the governing body constitution, policies and procedures, to the new governing body.”
In the same meeting the principal must conduct an induction session for the new members and answer any questions that the new governing body may have, while a handover certificate, signed by both the incoming and outgoing chairperson, must be completed and kept safely at the school.
Evidence of the actual handover process must be properly minuted and recorded.
The outgoing governing body will continue to perform its functions until the first meeting of the new governing body, Schäfer added.
“The new governing body must meet within seven days after receiving notice from the electoral officer, to elect office bearers. The outgoing governing body must hand over to the new governing body within 14 days of the first meeting,” she said.
“We have many examples of outstanding governing bodies that have contributed significantly to improving the quality of education at their schools through their good governance. The new governing bodies will learn from their experience. Integral to this is a full and thorough handover process.”
After the elections, the department will provide SGBs with comprehensive training and support by officials who specialise in school management and governance.
“The department is working with schools to prepare for the elections, starting with training sessions for principals as electoral officers in all eight education districts of the province during February,” Schäfer said.
“The department is providing every principal with a comprehensive training manual that covers all aspects of the elections, from the legislative framework to compiling voters’ rolls, election processes and managing disputes.
“I wish schools all the best as they conduct the election process and I look forward to working with our new governing bodies as we continue to strive for well-managed schools that provide quality education for all our children.”