Livingstone High School’s school governing body (SGB) and management have come under fire from disgruntled parents who are accusing them of poor leadership and a lack of communication.
On Tuesday March 20, a new SGB was set to be elected, but a poor turnout of only about 15 parents led to the elections being postponed to Tuesday March 27.
One of the concerned parents who did arrive was Ilhaam Rahbeeni, who says there is poor communication between the principal, staff and parents and has even considered removing her two boys from the school.
“Lots of parents have reached the point where they feel or have accepted that nothing will come of their concerns and things will not change. It’s safe to say that many parents have given up already, which is not good for this school.”
Ms Rahbeeni said she strongly felt that the school “Lots of parents have reached the point where they feel or have accepted that nothing will come of their concerns and things will not change. It’s safe to say that many parents have given up already, which is not good for this school.”
Ms Rahbeeni said she strongly felt that the school had some major communication problems and is poorly managed. “I feel that the principal needs to step down as he has no leadership qualities. Phoning the school is like phoning yourself and just sucking out answers,” Ms Rahbeeni said.
Among her gripes is the way the school’s SMS system works with only some parents receiving notifications.
She said even some of the current SGB members had not received a message about the election meeting which she found quite “shocking”.
“My son had to wait outside for me one day while I had no clue the school came out earlier. I was then told that an SMS was sent out to the parents, but I received nothing. What if something happened to my child?”
Ms Rahbeeni said when she raised the matter with the school principal, she was escorted off the premises and the issues were not addressed. “I am very involved with my children’s education and I find it disgusting that only certain parents get notified about a meeting taking place. A meeting that involves my children, but my presence at the meeting is not that important, because that is the way the school makes it seem,” said Ms Rahbeeni.
She refused to form part of the SGB, having already been offered a position in the past.
As a parent, she would like to see more activities implemented at the school, further parent involvement, more workshops for teachers and a better support system for the pupils. “This is all things that can help the school grow and change for the better. These are things that can change sooner than later,” Ms Rahbeeni said.
The Tatler is aware of other parents sharing the same concerns as Ms Rahbeeni, but they chose to withhold the comments on the matter until the election process has been completed.
The Tatler made contact with Livingstone High School, submitting a list of questions and following up with several calls, but they were unable to respond to the query at the time of going to print.
The Western Cape Education Department (WCED) has launched a campaign to promote the SGB elections which take place throughout the country during March.
The department distributed more than one million leaflets to schools during February detailing the roles and responsibilities of governing bodies, as well as using social media and conducting an extensive radio campaign.
According to the South African Schools Act (SASA), the responsibilities of the governing body include deciding on an admissions policy for the school; deciding on the language policy of the school; deciding on what religious practices will be followed at the school; formulating the school’s constitution and mission statement; formulating the code of conduct for pupils which sets out disciplinary procedures; budget and financial management; recommending staff appointments and supporting the principal, teachers and other staff.
Debbie Schafer, the provincial MEC of Education, said: “Schools and the WCED are preparing for the biggest elections after the national, provincial and local government elections, namely the election of governing bodies throughout the province. Governing bodies represent all sectors of the school community, including parents, teachers, non-teaching staff -and learners in Grades 8 to 12.” She said the outgoing governing body will continue to perform its functions until the first meeting of the new governing body, who are required to meet within seven days after receiving notice from the electoral officer, to elect office bearers. “The outgoing governing body must hand over to the new governing body within 14 days of the first meeting. We have many examples of outstanding governing bodies that have contributed significantly to improving the quality of education at their schools through their good governance. The new governing bodies will learn from their experience and from thorough training and support by our officials. I encourage them to please put the interests of the children and the improvement of education first, and work together with the school principal and staff to achieve this,” Ms Schafer said.
After the elections, the WCED will provide governing bodies with comprehensive training and support by officials who specialise in school management and governance. “The department is providing every principal with a comprehensive training manual that covers all aspects of the elections, from the legislative framework to compiling voters’ rolls, election processes and managing disputes,” she said.