Learners need to be Involved in School Governance, According to Researcher
School governance and the understanding of it by learner governors were at the core of research by Mr Vikani Msimanga, Head of Department at Ephangweni Primary school in Estcourt.
Msimanga recently graduated with his Master’s degree in Educational Leadership Management and Policy (summa cum laude).
His research investigated learner governors’ understanding of their roles in school governance. ‘I wanted to know whether they understand what is expected of them as members of a School Governing Body (SGB),’ said Msimanga.
The key findings of his research reveal that learners do not understand their roles in SGBs which he feels is clearly stipulated in the South African Schools Act of 1996. ‘I discovered that learners are just included in SGBs for window dressing to appease departmental officials. I also realised that learners are not capacitated to perform their roles in the manner in which parents and other counterparts are.
‘I hope this research will benefit society with schools rolling out programmes to include learners in governance thus leading to a reduction in the ill-discipline of learners. With learners on board, schools can excel and there will be less anarchy there,’ said Msimanga.
One of his biggest obstacles during his master’s studies was a lack of finance. ‘I support my family financially and at one point I had to take a loan to cover my registration fees.’
Msimanga is a husband, father, priest, school HOD, and branch secretary of the South African Democratic Teachers Union (SADTU). In the face of all his responsibilities, he managed to strike a balance between studies, work and family. ‘I had a plan. Through self-discipline, I adhered to my timetable and cut back on social events.’
He praised his family and his supervisor, Professor Vitallis Chikoko, for their support.
Msimanga advised other researchers to remain focused, take positives from their supervisors, dedicate time to research and love what they do.
He hopes to pursue a PhD in the future.