SGB training on conflict resolution and conducting disciplinary hearings.

It is Friday afternoon. We are hosting an SGB Development and Training 2-day workshop for our school governors. The topics we are covering are: Emotional intelligence, conflict resolution, negotiation skills and how to conduct disciplinary hearings. Our delegates include two principals - Jean Human from Simonstown School and Michael Tyali from Ukhanyo Primary School, a few teachers, many parents and four RCL members. The four learners are from Muizenberg and Sibelius High schools.

It is not easy serving on the SGB. The SGB has a huge responsibility to ensure that the school runs smoothly and efficiently. There is a challenge finding parents-especially those from the poor communities - to make themselves available to serve on the SGB. Those parents who are eventually elected to serve on the school governing body in these poorer schools, find themselves in a difficult position. Many of them lack the skills, competencies and insights to carry out their responsibilities effectively.

A snapshot of the school governors
SGB functionality and the dynamic of power relations
Even today, here at this workshop, most of the participants have indicated they want training on the roles and responsibilities of the SGB. There is also the challenge of illiteracy amongst our parents and this becomes their disadvantage. Often the principal and the teachers serving on the SGB impose their authority on the parents, making them feel even more vulnerable. So, how do you address this imbalance in the power relations? How does one provide sufficient training for our parents to equip them with the knowledge and skills to empower them, when the very parents are not available due to work commitments?

We also have another sector of schools where their SGBs can draw from a large pool of educated, professional parents who often compete to serve on the school governing bodies. This sector of SGBs also has access to time and training resources that their disadvantaged peers ironically need. Often these SGBs also have power relations issues. In these instances, there is a reversal of power, where the parent school governors often blur their governance mandate with the professional management responsibility of the school head.

RCL members posing with teachers from Capricorn and Delta
Attendees at the workshop today

The majority of the delegates here hail from the disadvantaged sector and it is good to see the interest. The unfortunate reality is that although the education department and the school principal are mandated to up skill our school governors, we ourselves do not have the time to do so. This is part of the complexity.
I am listening to the discussion on conflict resolution now. The participants seem to enjoy this part of the workshop. There is an emphasis on relationship building and communication. It is almost time to conclude this training module. As much as the delegates have been enjoying the dialogues, they are tired and eager to go home. Tomorrow we will conclude this training and hopefully, the delegates will have the opportunity to cascade this information.


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