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DBE Appeals To Parents, Communities To Protect Schools Against Disruptions As Grade 7s Return

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The Department of Basic Education (DBE) on Monday issued an appeal to parents and communities to protect schools against disruptions as grade 7 learners gear up to resume lessons on Tuesday.

The department is phasing in learning amid the coronavirus pandemic, but some parents and communities are not happy with schools reopening, saying the risk of their children contracting Covid-19 remains too great, and that some schools are not ready with preventative measures aimed at curbing the spread of the virus.

“The Department has become aware of attempts made by some members of School Governing Bodies (SGBs) around the country to close schools and disrupt learning. In Gauteng, SGB members disrupted 38 schools in Daveyton/Etwatwa, 37 schools in Tsakane, and eight schools in KwaThema on Thursday. There are reports of the Congress of South African Students (COSAS) also disrupting schools across the province,” the department said.

It said it wanted to remind SGB members that closing of schools was a legal function reserved for the provincial head of department (HOD), and that should SGBs act outside the legal dictates of their roles and functions by trying to close schools, they risked immediate disbandment.

“The Council of Education Ministers is on record as having warned that any individual or group who disrupts learning at our schools will be reported to the authorities and the Department reserves the right to charge them with violation of the South African Schools Act (Act no. 84 of 1996),” said the department.

According to the roles and functions of SGBs, as defined by the Schools Act, an SGB must ensure the school is governed in the best interest of all the stakeholders. All SGB members must always put the best interest of the school before any personal interests.

The South African Schools Act further stipulates an SGB must promote the best interest of the school and ensure its development, adopt a constitution setting out how the SGB will operate, adopt a mission statement for the school, and adopt a code of conduct for learners at the school which sets out disciplinary procedures.

Furthermore, the SGB must help the principal, educators and other staff members to perform their professional functions, decide on school policy which should include amongst others admissions, language, and finance; administer and control the property of the school, buildings, and grounds; and encourage parents, learners, educators and other staff members at the school to offer voluntary services to the school.

The department said the SGB may apply to the HOD in writing requesting to be allocated any of the following functions:

  • To maintain and improve the school’s property, buildings, and grounds.
  • To buy textbooks, educational materials, and equipment for the school.
  • To pay for services rendered to the school.

The department appealed to SGBs to not take matters into their own hands.

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