Every public school in South Africa must have a school governing body (SGB). The next school governing body (SGB) elections are taking place from 1 to 31 March 2024.
The SGBs consist of elected members (parents and guardians, teachers and other school staff, and learners), the principal (ex-officio), and co-opted members. It is responsible for the governance of the school and, very importantly, represents parental authority in the public school system. For this reason, the law requires that parents must always be the majority of voting SGB members.
The importance of SGBs:
SGBs are the guardians and gatekeepers of the school and set the school culture and climate. The SGB determines the school’s vision and mission, values and ethos, and policies (e.g. on admission, language, religion, and conduct). It appoints and promotes teachers and manages school facilities.
The SGB also protects and promotes the best interest of the school community, in particular, that learners receive a quality education that meets the expectations of parents. This includes ensuring that inappropriate and/or harmful learning materials and practices are kept out of the school.
(For more information on what SGBs are and how they help uphold parental rights in the public education system, please read this article on the significance of SGBs).
Parental participation crucial:
The importance of parental participation in school governance cannot be over-emphasised. It is non-negotiable if parents want to ensure that the education children receive does not undermine the religious beliefs and moral values they want – and have the right – to instil in their children.
The best way to participate in school governance is to vote in (and stand as a candidate) in the SGB elections.
How SGB elections work:
SGB elections are held every three years. The next election is scheduled for 1 to 31 March 2024. While each province will publish regulations stipulating exactly how its elections will work, all SGB elections contain certain basic elements.
The school will provide parents with all the important election information, including the details of the nomination and election meetings, the voters’ roll, the nomination form, and the nomination and election process and method, etc.
Step 1: Voter’s roll
The first step is to ensure that your name appears on the voter’s roll. The school will make the voter’s roll available. You cannot vote or stand for SGB if your name is not on the roll. If your name should be there but is not, you need to raise a dispute without delay.
Step 2: Nomination of candidates
If you want to stand as a candidate, you need to ensure that your nomination form is properly completed and submitted. Be ready to make your case for why you are a suitable candidate and should be elected to SGB. You can also – and FOR SA strongly encourages you to – support fellow parents who are suitable candidates (by proposing and seconding their nominations).
The school will confirm how the nomination process and requirements for standing as a candidate work. It will also validate all nominations received and make available the final nominations list. Objections can be made against unsuitable nominations. Be sure to attend any nomination meetings.
Step 3: Voting on election day
Come election day, attend the election meeting and vote for suitable candidates. For this reason, it is important to understand who the candidates are and what they stand for.
The school will confirm the election process and requirements, including whether the election will take place at a physical location or online, how many candidates you can vote for, and whether identification is necessary.
In conclusion: participate in the SGB elections!
As a parent, it is likely of vital importance to you that no one undermines the beliefs and values are teaching your child. You will be glad to know that the law is squarely on your side, but it is still your responsibility to actively exercise your parental authority and rights.
For this reason, FOR SA calls on all parents of school-going children to participate in the 2024 SGB elections. You cannot afford to leave your child’s education in the hands of others.
Freedom of Religion South Africa (FOR SA) is dedicated to protecting and preserving the freedoms and rights that the South African Constitution has granted to the faith community. If you have found this helpful, please consider supporting the work of FOR SA to protect our constitutional right to enjoy the freedom of religion by: