31/01/2024 - Fedsas
Delays with the publication of new election regulations might lead to chaos with this year’s school governing body elections. Last year, a national task team developed new national guidelines which were to be published as provincial regulations. However, if these regulations are not published today (31 January 2024), time will be running out and the flawed regulations of the 2021 elections will have to remain in force.
“We brought the urgency of the publication to the attention of the Minister of Basic Education at a meeting of the National Consultative Forum last week. She then promised to discuss the matter with the Council of Education Ministers, who also met last week,” says Dr Jaco Deacon, CEO of FEDSAS (the Federation of Governing Bodies of South African Schools).
Deacon says only the Free State published the new election regulations on time. “Some provincial education departments indicated that they are busy with ‘training’. It is not clear how people can be trained without regulations.”
Deacon says the date of the election was published in the Government Gazette at the end of last year. “It starts in 30 days’ time on 1 March and concludes on 31 March. However, there are only 14 school days in March, which implies that schools must hold their elections as early as possible. Regulations also determine that schools must apply for the model of the elections at least 30 days before the election, which means that it is now impossible to hold an election early in March.
“The national task team considered several models of election, for example an e-election, and did extensive work to make the process as simple as possible. The task team consisted of senior officials of the Department of Basic Education, governing body organisations and provincial education departments.” Deacon says FEDSAS also requested that the Minister of Basic Education be granted the authority to announce one set of regulations for the entire country to avoid this exact situation. This suggestion is included in the BELAB legislation.
“There are so many recent examples that point to the contempt of the government for the Schools’ Act. The Act makes provision for public schools and not state schools. Public schools belong to the communities in which these schools are located. However, at provincial and often even national level education officials go out of their way to undermine this right.”
In addition to regulations not being published on time, there is also no clear marketing strategy for the SGB elections by provincial education departments. “The message is clear: Public schools and the election of SGB members are not important. This same message is also clear in the controversial BELAB legislation.”
FEDSAS is again calling on each Education MEC to publish the election regulations immediately and to scrap the requirement of 30 days to apply for the module of election. FEDSAS also requests that the Minister see to it that provinces adhere to the Schools’ Act.
FEDSAS will continue with a comprehensive campaign to market the SGB elections and to inform school communities. “We call on faith communities, community organisations and other role-players to motivate parents to be involved in the elections. More than 250 000 SGB members must be elected at the country’s 22 511 public schools. Just imagine how strong a voice public schools as a collective can have with a quarter of a million knowledgeable and passionate SGB members.”
In addition to the marketing of the elections, FEDSAS is also ready with programmes to train and equip SGB members. The organisation provides access to comprehensive resources, legal opinions and documents and training on all aspects of a governing body’s work.
FEDSAS’ campaign was built around the slogan Your community, your school – vote! Schools and organisations that want to become involved in the elections will receive access to marketing material and video messages from many different South Africans. They can also join the FEDSAS social media campaign with the hashtag #SchoolElections2024. Prof. Thuli Madonsela and musician Jo Black are some of the well-known South Africans who already motivated parents to participate.
For more information about the SGB elections as well as FEDSAS’ training programmes and other resources, visit www.fedsas.org.za