Concerns about BL elections due to late regulations

Henry

The Federation of Governing Bodies of South African Schools (Fedsas) is concerned that this year’s governing body elections could be plunged into chaos because most of the new provincial election regulations have still not been published.

Last year, a national task force already established national guidelines to be published as provincial regulations. If these regulations are not published by the end of Wednesday, there is a high chance that the election in March will be subject to the same flawed regulations of the 2021 election.

“We brought the urgency of the publication to the attention of the minister of basic education (Angie Motshekga) last week during a meeting of the national consultative forum. She undertook to discuss it with the council of education ministers last week,” said Dr. Jaco Deacon, CEO of Fedsas, said on Wednesday.

According to Deacon, only the Free State has published the new election regulations.

“Some provincial education departments have indicated that they are engaged in ‘training’. It is not clear how people can be trained without regulations.”

He further says that the date of the election was already at the end of last year in the government Gazette was placed. It starts on March 1 and lasts until March 31. However, there are only 14 school days in March, which means that schools must hold their elections as early as possible. However, guidelines also state that schools must apply for the model of the election 30 days before the election, which means that it is now impossible to hold an election in early March.

“The national task team looked at different models of election, for example an e-election, and did a lot of work to make the process as easy as possible. The task force consisted of senior officials from the department of basic education, governing body organizations and provincial education departments.”

Fedsas also requested that the education minister be given the power to announce one set of regulations for the entire country, precisely to prevent the current state of affairs. The proposal is contained in the Bela draft law.

“There are so many recent examples that point to the disdain the government has for the Schools Act. The law specifically provides for public schools and not state schools. Public schools belong to the communities where these schools are located, but at the provincial and often national level, education officials go out of their way to undermine this right,” said Deacon.

“Apart from the fact that the regulations were not published on time, there is also no clear marketing campaign of the school governing body elections by provincial education departments. The message is clear: public schools and the election of governing body members are not important. The same message is also clear in the controversial Bela draft legislation.”

Fedsas once again calls on every education MEC to immediately publish the election regulations and waive the 30-day requirement to apply for the election model. The federation also requests that the minister ensure that the provinces implement the Schools Act.

“We also appeal to faith communities, community organizations and other role players to motivate parents to get involved in the election.

“More than 250,000 governing body members must be elected from the country’s 22,511 public schools. Just think how strong a voice public schools as a whole will have with a quarter of a million knowledgeable and passionate SBL members.”