The recent news of alleged corruption at Glenvista High School highlights the role school governing bodies (SGBs) play in guiding ethical conduct in schools. “Governance principles can be used to guide the appropriate behaviour to ensure decisions are made in the best interests of the school and its stakeholders,” says Vikeshni Vandayar, Legal and Governance Specialist at the Institute of Directors in Southern Africa (IoDSA).
“Improved governance in schools has the potential to significantly boost the quality of the education offered at a particular public school, expand its growth and enhance its financial stability,” says Paul Colditz, CEO of the Federation of Governing Bodies of South African Schools (FEDSAS). Colditz further adds “One of the biggest governance pitfalls that leads to instances of maladministration in schools, is that often members of the SGB believe that the requirements of good governance does not apply to them because they are acting on a voluntary basis or not remunerated.
The IoDSA is assisting FEDSAS in drafting a school governance guide. “We believe the guide will make a huge impact in understanding the basic principles and best practices of good governance in the school context,” says Colditz. “The idea is to make a publication available in easily understandable and accessible language and format and that would inspire all SGB members to become the best possible leaders.”
By SGBs implementing governance principles, improved leadership and decision-making will become apparent. SGBs will have improved tools to monitor and manage risk and improve the confidence of all stakeholders involved with the school - such as learners, teachers, parents, the national and provincial departments of education and local communities in the school environment.
The implementation of SGB governance in a public school will constantly adapt and evolve as the performance of the SGB and the school improves. The SGB therefore needs to consider which measures are most appropriate for the specific school.
The application of the desired outcomes and any recommendations found in the guide should be viewed in the context of the school’s nature, size and maturity. “The idea is for each SGB to apply its collective mind to the governance principles as to determine which would be in the best interests of the school,” says Vandayar.
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