27/11/2022 - Fedsas
The FEDSAS team travelled a total distance of five times around the equator this year to visit schools, governing bodies, and provincial education departments. The more than 200 000 km by road is one way of painting a picture of the sheer volume of work that the Federation of Governing Bodies of South African Schools puts in to create value for member schools.
“The work FEDSAS does on behalf of schools and school governing bodies on a macro level with the government and in the rest of the education sector is simply remarkable,” says Dr Shaun Mellors, Chairperson of the FEDSAS National Council. He was speaking at the organisation’s annual general meeting that took place online this past weekend (Saturday, 26 November 2022). Mellors says the impact and influence of the organisation on the education landscape in South Africa are difficult to put into words.
“To name one example: FEDSAS is the only education role-player, including government departments, that can provide training material in all official languages as well as South African Sign Language and Braille. This accessibility is improved even more by the availability of this material online, in hard copy as well as through face-to-face school visits. This means that a governing body member at a small school in a remote rural area has the same access to resources for school governance as an SGB member at an elite school in a wealthy suburb,” says Mellors.
Dr Jaco Deacon, CEO of FEDSAS, says the organisation is people-driven. “People are helping other people to solve problems and to come up with plans. That is why we place such a premium on personal relationships with member schools and provincial government officials with whom schools work daily. The FEDSAS team visited more than 1300 schools across the country this year. We held 32 roadshows to inform schools of the activities of FEDSAS and we held more than 150 meetings with provincial education departments. Training covers everything from handling tough governance issues to policy, budgets and even learner discipline.”
Deacon says the organisation is also investing heavily in collecting and processing reliable data. “This enables FEDSAS to make important data-driven decisions. The experience and insight of provincial managers who visit schools in their provinces and who know people personally combined with reliable data enable us to make decisions that really speak to the heart of an issue.”
FEDSAS’s digital offer is also expanded continuously. FEDSAS Market Place, introduced earlier this year, is a digital market that gives school management teams and SGBs access to a wide variety of educational products and services. Service providers benefit from FEDSAS’s country-wide footprint, extensive network, and media presence.
Both the Centre for Technology and the Centre for Finances and Risk Management deliver a service to FEDSAS member schools as well as an internal service to the organisation. These centres also link with service providers in the education sector to provide SGBs with a choice of reliable service providers. Both centres also publish regular online magazines with information on technology, finances, and risk management.
Deacon says FEDSAS is well-known for the organisation’s expertise in terms of education law. “The legal services team of FEDSAS worked especially hard on comments on the Basic Education Laws Amendment Bill this year. FEDSAS also made a submission to the portfolio committee on basic education on this matter. More than 80 legal letters were written on behalf of members to provincial education departments on several aspects relating to the application of education law that the SGBs involved were experiencing issues with.”