AbstractsEducation Research & Administration

Principals' perceptions and experiences of school governing bodies in rural areas

by Dladla

Institution: University of Pretoria
Year: 2014
Keywords: Schools; School Governance; School Governing Body; School Management; Parent members; Parent support; Principals’ roles; School policy; UCTD
Record ID: 1449163
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/2263/40442


The South Africa Schools Act (Act No. 84 of 1996), which came into effect on I January 1996, and the National Education Policy Act (Act No. 21 of 1996), introduced a new approach to the South African Education system. These acts, and many policy documents produced by the National Department of Education, provide for the active participation of parents, and other members of the community, in the governance of schools. Whilst policy mandates stakeholder participation, this study revealed that in practice parent participation is problematic. The aim of this study was to explore principals’ perceptions and experiences of school governing bodies in three selected rural primary schools in the Nkomazi area, Mpumalanga. A qualitative research approach within the parameters of the interpretivist paradigm was applied. The study utilised a multi-site case study research design focusing on three primary schools in different localities. Document analysis and structured interviews were employed to collect data at the three sites that were purposefully sampled. It was found that principals experienced some parent members of the school governing bodies as having low levels of education and not being able to cope with their roles as stipulated by SASA. Principals revealed that the ignorance and incompetence of parents regarding their roles causes conflict, that they provide insufficient support and do not attend meetings regularly. Principals dominate their parent school governing body (SGB) members, initiate innovations and make decisions without consulting the parents. Parents’ incompetence, insufficient cooperation and poor contribution towards the operation of the school increases the principals' workload and results in principals’ frustration. Principals revealed that they experience difficulties in trusting the parents with confidential matters discussed at SGB meetings. The study found that principals experience less conflict and better cooperation with parent SGB members who are educated. Parents who are able to read the policies have understanding of their roles, support the principals in their respective roles, optimise the operation of the school governing body and alleviate the workload of the principals.