Shared Decision-Making in School Governance: A Case Study of Two Soweto Secondary Schools

By Patrick Mafora.

Published by The Learner Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The South African Schools Act (No. 84 of 1996), which regulates the governance of public schools in South Africa, draws a distinction between professional management and governance and prescribes who should carry out which function. While day to day professional management is assigned to the school principal, governance decisions are the competence of the School Governing Body (SGB). The latter comprises of the principal, parents, teachers, non-teaching staff, and learners, only in secondary schools. This arrangement is meant to mark a departure from the pre-democracy era when school principals could decide unilaterally or manipulate the decisions made on both school management and governance matters, resulting in the school decision-making climate being characterised by, among others, domination, coercion, withdrawal and fear.
This paper reports on a case study of two secondary schools in Soweto. The purpose of the study was to examine: the meanings ascribed by members’ of the SGB to the shared decision-making process; SGB members’ perceptions and experiences of their role in the shared decision-making process; and their views on the effectiveness of the process. Findings of the study indicate that there is no common understanding of the values that should bedrock shared decision-making. While participation is supposed to be free and open, it is experienced differently by different SGB members. There are reported structural and social barriers that inhibit meaningful participation of all SGB members in the shared decision-making process. Recommendations that could serve as guidelines for improving the shared decision-making process in schools are also made.

Keywords: South Africa, Soweto Schools, Governance, Shared Decision-Making, Democratic Values Barriers

The International Journal of Learning, Volume 18, Issue 6, pp.97-108. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 764.317KB).

Dr. Patrick Mafora

Chair of Department, Educational Studies, University of South Africa, Pretoria, Gauteng, South Africa

Chair of Department with oversight on daily operations and the management of resources (human, physical, and finances). Accountable to, and reporting to the School Director and the College Executive Dean for departmental tuition, research, and community engagement initiatives. Represents the department in various College and University decision-making structures.


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