Make your vote count in nationwide elections of school governing bodies

Former SGB officials at Motsaneng Primary School in Mapetla, Soweto, Mmamotseki Motseki, Sanah Seritsane and Thabo Mokoena explain issues during a meeting./SANDILE NDLOVU
Former SGB officials at Motsaneng Primary School in Mapetla, Soweto, Mmamotseki Motseki, Sanah Seritsane and Thabo Mokoena explain issues during a meeting./SANDILE NDLOVU

So you don't like how your local schools are being run, and you're tired of complaining? Then do something about it.

The largest public elections after national, provincial and local elections are under way at every school across the country. More than five million people are voting for the school governing bodies.

So, can you help to determine your child's education by participating in elections of SGB officials taking place across Gauteng from March 1 to March 31?

Democracy is defined as people having free choices. They choose the leaders who will oversee government and decide what services will be provided and how to raise funds through taxes.

In our system of government, unlike many other forms, the people, by their votes, make the selections from among their fellow citizens as to who will be empowered to make these key decisions.

But SGB elections are a little different from a general election. There is no formal party list. There is no slate of political party candidates. As long as you are on the ballot, you have the same chance as other candidates to be listed first. As a voter, you can vote for whoever you deem fit to be a member of the SGB.

For those elected, what happens next? You're sworn in and then you'll find yourself participating in how your local school is being run, including deciding on every expenditure that is made, worrying about fixing the school roof; and making the decision on whether to hire more teachers.

Those are things you found easy to complain about before you were elected. Now, parents are going to complain to you. You have the power to propose policies that will address their concerns, and also learn there are no easy solutions to those complaints.

Once you are an SGB member, you will be one of very few residents in your community responsible for the education of all the children.

You'll receive plenty of guidance from educators and administrators. But, only you and the other SGB members can make the final decision. So, don't sit back!

Generally speaking, SGBs develop policies that guide the schools. They evaluate trends, identify the needs of the school, help oversee the implementation of its mission and vision, help develop budgets and employ staff.

Here are the qualities I believe voters should look for in an SGB candidate:

I have had the opportunity to work with SGBs. I have admired those who have the ability and desire to learn and listen, a talent to work through difficult problems and issues, a great interest in topics from children's needs, a love for the environment and a fluidity and flexibility in leadership style, and the most helpful in determining the future of our children.

So, don't sit back! Participate in the election of SGBs.

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