OPINION: SGBs at schools is a big concern

Phiri Cawe

Are you happy with your school’s governing body (SGB)?

Having dealt with schools almost on a daily basis, I qualify to ask this question. I asked this because as a resident and an observer, I am far from happy with school governing bodies.

The members are clueless about their role, instead they are disruptive at schools and behave as if they own the school. The South African Schools Act (SASA) gives certain powers to an SGB.

The purpose of this act was to get parents, teachers, principals, pupils and community members to work together in the running of a school.

The reasoning was that these people are best suited to understand the financial, social and cultural problems facing a particular school.

But mark my words, in black schools, these guys are clueless, and instead, are a cause for concern.

They stay on forever as members and are prepared to form their own bodies when their time is over.

They are doing this because they are spoilt and used by certain principals.

This is not for me to say, but most principals use these mothers and fathers to fight their wars with certain teachers at schools. Principals, allegedly hire their friends and relatives in many positions. They are allegedly hiring unqualified teachers instead of their own. These are allegations from those who know better than me.

But I have been a victim of a certain school in Khayelitsha for asking these questions to a principal.

I was detained in the office for hours, interrogated to reveal who my source was. I had to resist. I told the old man who was an SGB chairperson that I will open a case. I told him and his trusted principal that, I am happy that they will have to tell the story in court. They had to come down and apologise. I went there knowing that the old man was the only member of the SGB. There was no SGB but he was everything. Believe you me, he is still there five years later.

It is not scientifically proven, but SGBs at schools have led to scores of illegal appointments.

In cahoots with principals, they did a lot of damage to our education system. Why do we have so many temporary teachers in Gugulethu, Khayelitsha, Philippi and other areas?

The answer is simple: lack of leadership and knowledge from the SGB members and corrupt principals.

There are times when teachers or principals from outside the areas are violently chased away by these people. How many qualified teachers who are new at school are threatened to leave or die?

How many of them are accused of taking jobs from local children and yet there are no qualified local teachers? Thousands and thousands.

In one school, a caretaker was framed by the SGB for raping a 5-year-old girl.

The poor guy spent five years in jail and was found not guilty. His sin was where he came from.

It is a pity that he never sued the police and the SGB for ruining his life. In one primary school, old members of the SGB refused to go when their time was up. But that is happening all over the township.

We need to commend the education department for establishing SASA.

But I think the same department needs to train these people. The SGBs need to know that they have no power to hire or fire staff. Yes they have their powers, like making recommendations on certain issues.

They should be part of the interviewing panel too. But should not think they have every right to hire.

As we start this year, I need to put it forward that personally I am not happy with SGBs at schools.

I am not happy because they cannot even protect the same school that is theirs.

I am not happy because they only care for their own interests and not that of the school and children.

Principals should also stop misusing SGBs for their own interests.

Most schools in Gugulethu have temporary teachers. Why?