Plan to get parents involved in children's education welcomed
The Times Editorial: The Department of Basic Education's announcement of new guidelines in the selection of school governing bodies has been widely welcomed.
Minister Angie Motshekga yesterday rightly pointed out the ideal role that these bodies should be playing in the development and maintenance of schools.
Much of the problems at many government schools are likely the direct result of a lack of parent involvement; where parents cede their responsibility towards their children once they are dropped off at the school gates.
As Motshekga's colleagues pointed out yesterday, about 30% of the schools in South Africa have dysfunctional governing bodies and this is likely to correlate with dismal exam results.
Ideally, there should be a pact between the pupils, teachers and parents. Once the pact is broken, the school and its pupils become the problem of the department and teachers.
But those schools that have healthy and dynamic governing bodies fulfil a vital service to the school population in determining language, religion, fees and a code of conduct for pupils.
"People in the school governing bodies are not there by default but they have enormous power to wield, which they can use positively," Motshekga said yesterday.
But though the news of stricter guidelines for the election of governing body members - which is due to happen in March across the country - must be welcomed, the department must be mindful to maintain a balance between interference and guidance.
Over the past year, the department has overruled school governing bodies' admission policies.
A Johannesburg primary school's governing body was last year instructed by the education department to enrol a pupil it had previously denied admission to. The case eventually ended in the Johannesburg High Court.
Parents who sacrifice their time to look after their children's best interests should not be alienated either.