By Valencia Talane and Kavisha Pillay Need to know how to fight the abuse of power and resources in your child’s school? Check out our easy-to-use toolkit that will guide you on the right questions to ask, so you can address the right issues and hold the right people accountable. YOUR SCHOOL GOVERNING BODY Does your school have a governing body? The Department of Basic Education defines a school governing body (SGB) as a structure that governs the school and makes sure it runs smoothly and efficiently. Every public school in South Africa is required by law to have an elected SGB. SGB elections occur every three years. How is an SGB formed and how many members can it have? Members are nominated and then elected once every three years during the SGB election season, which is usually determined by the department. They may stand for re-election at the end of the three-year term. In the case of secondary schools, learner representatives in the SGB may only serve a term of one year at a time, but can also stand for re-election at the end of their term. The size of the SGB is determined by the number of learners on the school’s roll, so the bigger the school the larger the SGB. A chairperson, treasurer and secretary must be elected from among the members. The chairperson has to be a parent who is not employed at the school. What are the functions of the SGB? • The SGB is responsible for establishing the school fund. All funding that the school receives goes into this account. • It is also responsible for maintaining and monitoring this account. • The school’s financial records, which must be audited every year, are managed by the SGB. The auditor is also appointed by the SGB. • The governing body also prepares the annual budget, which includes the school’s estimated income and expenditure for the year. Who can be elected to the SGB? • the principal (mandatory) • parents/guardians of learners at the school (this group forms the majority of members) • staff members, including teachers and non-teaching staff • learners in grade eight or higher (in the case of secondary schools) Who is the SGB accountable to? The SGB’s functions and line of authority are clearly stated in the provincial department’s policies and statutes. The head of the provincial department is responsible for ensuring that SGBs are held accountable should discrepancies occur in their operations. How can the SGB help you fight corruption? A parent can report suspected corruption at the school to a member of the SGB. The SGB has the right to take the report to the HOD or the MEC. An investigation may then be carried out by the provincial department. In the event that the chairperson of the SGB, another SGB member or school principal is implicated in allegations of corruption, the parent can report this to a teacher within the body or any other member of the SGB that he or she trusts. Nothing stops a parent or community member from reporting suspected corruption directly to the provincial department. However, the channels above will be followed in terms of the investigation. What can you do about corruption at your school? One thing you CANNOT do is let it continue to happen. Not only does corruption in schools steal opportunities from learners, it also robs communities of credible institutions of learning. Report corruption at your school! MANAGING THE SCHOOL’S MONEY What about my school’s finances? Every public school in South Africa is allocated funding on an annual basis by the provincial education department under which it falls. Numerous criteria determine how much a school gets, including the number of learners at the school and the area in which the school is situated. The principal is the accounting officer of the school in terms of the Public Finance Management Act as determined by the department. Why should I know how much money my school received? As a parent, you should be in a position to determine if funding from the department is being spent properly and that a culture of transparency is followed by the school’s authorities at all times. Wise use of school funds – including efficient spending on learning material and infrastructure – means that your child’s right to a quality education is protected by the school. Where should I go for information on my school’s finances? The principal of the school or the chairperson of the SGB should be able to help you access the school’s financial statements. They are required by law to do so. What should I know about my school’s finances? As a parent you should know: • how much money the school has been allocated by the department of education • what it will be spent on (budget) • who will audit the financial statements for accuracy • how the school funds have been spent at the end of the financial year Who should prepare my school’s financial statements? The SGB, which should appoint a treasurer, is responsible for drawing up and maintaining financial statements. Who should prepare my school’s budget? The operational budget of the school is also the responsibility of the SGB. Who should audit my school’s financial statements? An independent auditor has to be appointed by the SGB to verify financial information relating to the school’s expenditure for each financial year. REPORTING CORRUPTION IN SCHOOLS How does corruption happen in schools? • When funds, supplies and other assets belonging to the school are stolen or abused • Maladministration or financial misconduct relating to school resources • Irregular employment practices by principals and/or SGBs • Irregular procurement practices by principals and/or SGBs Why should I report corruption? It is important to report corruption in schools for the sake of learners whose education may be compromised by selfish acts of school administrators. How do I blow the whistle on corruption at my school? Depending on what form of corruption you witness, there are several channels you can follow, including approaching a member of staff, the principal or a member of the SGB. The order of reporting corruption is as follows: 1. You as a parent report to the SGB 2. The SGB then reports to the principal 3. The principal reports it to the oversight and governance unit of the district office 4. Once an investigation has been conducted and findings are made final, the district office reports these to the HOD of the education department 5. If you are not satisfied with the findings, you may appeal to the office of the education MEC What if a teacher is involved in corruption? If you suspect one or more members of the teaching staff of corruption, you can approach the principal to report the staff. What if the principal is involved in corruption? If you suspect the principal of corrupt activity, then you must approach the SGB or the district or provincial offices of the education department in your area. What if a member of the SGB is involved in corruption? If you suspect one or more members of the SGB are involved in corruption, you must approach the principal with your information. Can learners also report suspected corruption? Anyone with information that suggests possible corruption at your school can report it accordingly. USEFUL CONTACTS Eastern Cape Steve Vukile Tshwete Education Complex, Zone 6, Zwelitsha Tel. 040 608 4200 | Web. http://www.ecdoe.gov.za Free State 55 Elizabeth Street, FS Provincial Government Building, Bloemfontein Tel. 051 404 8000 | Web. http://www.education.fs.gov.za/ Gauteng 111 Commissioner Street, Johannesburg Tel. 011 355 0000 | Web. www.education.gpg.gov.za KwaZulu-Natal 247 Burger Street, Pietermaritzburg Tel. 033 846 5000 | Web. www.kzneducation.gov.za Limpopo Corner 113 Biccard & 24 Excelsior Street, Polokwane Tel. 015 290 7611 | Web. www.edu.limpopo.gov.za Mpumalanga Building No. 5, Government Boulevard, Riverside Park, Nelspruit Tel. 013 766 5000 | Web. www.mpumalanga.gov.za/education North West 2nd Floor Executive Block, Garona Building, Mmabatho Tel. 018 387 3312 | Web. www.nwpg.gov.za/education Northern Cape 09 Hayston Road, Harrison Park, Kimberley Tel. 053 830 1600 | Web. http://premier.ncpg.gov.za/DoE/ Western Cape Grand Central Towers, Cnr Darling and Lower Plein Streets, Cape Town Tel. 021 467 2000 | Web. http://wced.pgwc.gov.za Image Excerpt Want to know how corruption happens at schools and what you can do to help fight it? Check out our easy-to-use toolkit that will guide you on the right questions to ask, so you can address the right issues and hold the right people accountable.