The government of South Africa and the main law which governs education in our country both support the idea that schools should belong to a governing body association. One such association is the Governing Body Foundation. There are four or five others as well, but we will leave it to them to inform you of their benefits.
So why do we need Governing body associations, who or what is the Governing Body Foundation, and what benefits will your school receive by becoming a member?
Why do our schools and country need governing body associations?
More and more, the department expects school governors and managers to look after their own schools.
They are expected to:
- Promote the best interests of the school.
- Support the educators and administrators in the performance of their duties.
- Draw up policies on matters like admissions, religion in the school and the languages of teaching and learning.
- Make decisions about things like school uniforms and the times of the school day.
- Administer and control the school’s property, buildings and grounds.
- Serve the school, and encourage others to provide voluntary services to the school.
- Recommend to the department the appointment of educators and non-educators for employment at the school.
Greater numbers of schools are also being declared Section 21 schools.
This means your school may be expected to do the following:
- Look after and improve the school’s property, its facilities and its buildings.
- Determine both the subject choice and extra mural curriculum of the school.
- Raise extra funds for the improvement of the education provided by the school for your children.
- Purchase textbooks, educational materials and equipment for the school.
- Employ additional staff to improve what the school offers, its safety and its quality.
- Pay for services (such as water, electricity and repairs) for the school.
These are all things that in a normal society are usually carried out by the department. In our democratic system, the state has delegated these duties to the principals, staff, parents and community. Unfortunately, many educators and governors have never been trained to do these tasks, and have little experience in carrying out such responsibilities. Governing body associations have been created to assist schools and their parents and staff in learning to manage such responsibilities, and to support them while they are learning.
Who or what is the Governing Body Foundation?
- We are a voluntary organization, funded by subscriptions from our member schools.
- We are politically unaligned, not affiliated to any particular union and offer allegiance to no one except our members and constitution.
- We service our members mainly through the medium of English – the most widely used language of education, administration and business in our country.
- We communicate mainly by e-mail, but are always available to be contacted by telephone or in writing, and can respond to you in the same way.
In the end, though, if you do not have a computer with e-mail you will struggle to get the most out of your membership.
Who will be the people that service your needs?
- We have local offices in Port Elizabeth, Durban, Johannesburg and Cape Town, as well as a national office.
- Our employees in these five offices are all people with a background in education and governance, who speak or write from first-hand experience in schools and governing bodies.
- We are governed by a board of trustees, and we use the expertise of elected board members to provide advice on matters that lie outside of education – things like finance, legal matters and human resource management.
- We will not fight court cases for you – but we believe we can give you sufficient good advice to prevent your breaking the law.
- We will not make your teachers better teachers – but we can help your principals and deputies become better managers.
- We cannot run your SGB meetings for you – but we can help your governors to understand governance better.
We think that what sets us apart and will give you the best value, is that all our employees have a background in education and governance, and work from hands-on know-how and understanding on schools and governing bodies.
How will the Governing Body Foundation be able to help you?
We have available for members (at no cost once you have joined) resources such as the following:
- Free telephone or e-mail advice on individual questions that arise in your school.
- A one- or two-page Notice Board about twice a term reminding you about what the school and governors need to be remembering, doing or submitting to the department.
- A one- or two-page note, called Undercurrents, published approximately every second week in term time, keeping you up to date on the latest developments in school and school governance.
- A provincial Newsletter, published when you need to be told about something which is happening, and which is especially relevant in your own province.
- A collection of policies to make sure that you remain legal and to help you manage matters in your school. A list is attached.
- A batch of more detailed stratagems (a stratagem is a clever scheme for achieving a goal; or a strategy for getting something done.) The stratagems cover things like Procurement, Managing your finances, How to run an SGB election, Disciplinary hearings and much more.
- Approximately three seminars per annum (also free) for governors and school management, held in the bigger centres in the four ‘fully serviced’ provinces (Eastern Cape, Western Cape, Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal.)
- Advice on matters of ongoing concern – everything from “Political activities on school premises …” to “Is it permitted to buy food for a school function using school fees …” and “Providing medicine to learners …”
- Clippings from national and local newspapers about education matters.
How much does membership cost?
- From 2013 your provincial department is expected to help pay for your subscription – not the full amount, but a useful contribution towards it.
- The actual fees vary from school to school, according to circumstances. Please contact your provincial Executive Officer to find out more.
In the end, though, we do not think the question is “Can we afford to belong?” We really do believe that you cannot afford NOT to belong to at least one of the organizations.
Some key points to remember
- We specialize in governance and provide advice and guidance in that field.
- Our members are schools or governing bodies – not individual teachers or governors.
- We will not go to court for you – but we will give you the advice you need to stay out of court.
- We will provide you with workable, legal policy documents which you can personalize for your own school.
- We are not a trade union and do not take up the quarrels of individual educators – that is the task of unions.
- If you do not have a computer and e-mail account, you will struggle to get the most out of your membership.
If you are interested, what do you do now?
As a first step, open your internet and look at our Website – type in www.gbf.org.za Some of the information you won’t be able to access – it is only for our members who have already joined – but you will be able to get an idea of what we have on offer.
If you want more information, or if you have any questions you want answered, please contact the provincial office closest to you.