“Communities reclaiming their Schools”.

Education is the key to the future of our country. We acknowledge up front that there are many committed government officials, principals, teachers, parents and learners who are doing a wonderful job. Regrettably there are many others who just don’t seem to appreciate the urgency of the challenges we are facing to build a winning nation through an effective education system.

An initiative has been launched by the local branch of National Association of School Governing Bodies (NASGB) to partner with Churches in an attempt to, amongst other things, restore moral values in our children in public schools and instill confidence in our public schools, especially township schools. The time has come for schools and communities to join hands and ensure that quality learning and teaching in schools becomes a reality, but if our children are not willing and ready to commit themselves to being at school on time and in the classroom and learn, none of this is possible. Hence the partnership with churches for church leaders and other religious formations to assist in reminding our children about morals and values.

The School Governing Body Associations of NM Bay and New Brighton met with the Church Leaders at St John’s Anglican Church on Thursday, 13 November 2014. Churches were requested to support them in their quest to address the radically deteriorating moral values and assist them to motivate and empower parents to reclaim the schools in our communities. There is a perception  that the education in the townships is worse than it was before 1994.

In response to the above request a combined working group was formed to recommend a way forward.  The group is made up of Pastor Neville Goldman, Archdeacon Zweli Tom and Dr Johann McFarlane of the Church Leaders Educational Task Team and Mrs Nomvuyo Mbiko, Mr Welile Trato and Mr Monga Peter chairpersons of SGB associations in NM Bay. The group decided to embark on an initial three point plan. Firstly, to encourage SGB’s to form study groups in all the 60 municipal wards, secondly, to embark on a “short term” campaign to empower parents to become involved in the governance of their schools, and finally to encourage all pupils and parents to accept responsibility for the welfare of their schools by participating in the JUST1HR movement.

It was decided to use the pending SGB elections to launch this Church – SGB partnership. This would necessitate the launch of an SGB Election awareness campaign that would run for 6 weeks from the last Thursday in January 2015 to the first Thursday in March 2015. With the limited time available the task team are approaching the print media and local radio stations to participate and  assist parents in the community by broadcasting or printing a series of five topics to empower them to participate meaningfully in the upcoming SGB elections from the 6 to 28 March 2015.

The task team decided to approach organizations already involved in SGB training to assist us with the content of the 5 articles. The group decided on the following 6 topics: An Introduction to School Governing Body Elections – March 2015; SGB Elections – the process; an overview of School Governing Bodies; the difference between management and governance in our public schools; school governing bodies – financial responsibilities and finally school governing bodies – staff appointments.

The Church – SGB partnership is approaching 5 radio stations to conduct weekly interviews with knowledgeable people on each one of the 6 topics. It has requested 5 newspapers to print the same articles during the 6 weeks running up to the elections.

In deciding on a suitable name for the campaign  “Communities reclaiming their Schools” was chosen to encourage parents to appreciate that this is a community driven bottom up and not top down initiative. We can’t expect others to always solve our problems. If there is something wrong with our schools let us fix them.

On completion of the elections members of Churches and the GM Foundation competent in the area of school governance have volunteered to assist with the initial and ongoing training of SGB monthly study groups. We are encouraging interested parties to publish regular columns and send out “management articles” to encourage newly elected members of all SGB’s.

The idea of this initiative is to also complement the Department of Education’s current “Management Plan For SGB Elections 2015”.

Issued on behalf of the Church Education Task Team by Pastor Neville Goldman, Archdeacon Zwelidumile Tom, Dr Johann McFarlane, Tyrone Strydom and Mrs Nomvuyo Mbiko.