The Contribution of School Governing Bodies in Promoting Democracy in South African Schools: The Current Trends
AbstractThis paper reports on a qualitative study that adopted an interpretive paradigm. The study sought to understand the experience and functioning of the school governing body as a tool to promote democracy in schools. Data were gathered through qualitative data collection methods, namely observations, semi-structured interviews and document reviews. The findings revealed that the principals embraced the existence of the following components of democracy in their schools: shared decision-making; acknowledgment of the rights of individuals; and the need for representation, participation and equality. Two structures for promoting democracy were found to be in existence in both schools, namely School Governing Bodies and Representative Councils for Learners. These structures were found to be functioning effectively and they were contributing to democracy in the schools. However, although learners’ voices were represented at both schools, learner participation in crucial issues in both schools was limited. The study recommends that all teachers, learners and parent representatives on SGBs be trained in skills such as deliberation; debate, dialogue and conflict management.Furthermore, training or capacity building related to advocacy skills and leadership development should be provided for all members of the SGB, including the teachers. Better learner, parental and staff involvement in school policy and decision-making will lead to more genuine community involvement and more effective and efficient school management.
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