Coordination of the 2012 School Governing Body Elections
Gauteng Department of Education

A. Problem Analysis

 1. What was the problem before the implementation of the initiative?
In a statement released at a media launch of SGB elections held in Pretoria on the 30 January 2012, the Minister of Basic Education, Mrs Angie Motshekga, announced that the 2012 School Governing Body (SGB) elections must be held from 1 to 31 March 2012. In her address, the Minister urged the nation to make these SGB Elections a resounding success befitting a winning nation. The election of SGB members in 27000 public schools constitutes the third largest democratic elections exercise outside of the national and provincial elections. Each elected SGB serves for a 3-year period before nation-wide elections are held to reconstitute the SGBs in all public schools throughout the country. The 2012 SGB Elections in South Africa were targeted for completion over just 1 month i.e. the 31 days that made up March 2012. Over that period close to 2200 public schools in Gauteng, were primed for the completion of the SGB Elections exercise in the province. According to the South African Schools Act (Act 84 of 1996), School Governing Bodies must be elected every three years. National Guidelines for the election and establishment of School Governing Bodies (National Department of Basic Education: 2012), dictate that democratic SGB elections must be held at regular intervals (3 years) according to officially gazetted procedures to legitimate the existence of SGBs in every school. It is the provincial department of education’s responsibility for ensuring that an SGB election is hosted at every eligible school within the province. To support the election initiative within the Gauteng, a public participation/oversight structure was constituted at the behest of the MEC. The establishment of the Multi Stakeholder Forum (MSF) represented a key strategic initiative by the MEC for Education Ms Barbara Creecy to accommodate the inputs of key external stakeholders into the management and rollout of the 2012 SGB Elections in the Gauteng Province. The ad hoc MSF structure that convened at regular intervals over its short existence to critically engage with the GDE around the 2012 SGB elections rollout programme offered a new avenue for the voices of all SGB Associations in the province to be heard. The MSF served to strengthen the GDE’s commitment to public participation and accountability and gave increased impetus to the monitoring and coordination capacity of the Department.

B. Strategic Approach

 2. What was the solution?
The primary objective of the 2012 SGB Election exercise in Gauteng involved the conduction of a regulated election exercise to choose bona fide parents to serve in the2200 school governance structures for a period of 3 years. The entire exercise was scheduledto be completed over a 31-day period in the month of March 2013. Given the enormity of thecomplete SGB Elections exercise i.e. the successful election of parents, educators, support staff and learners (secondary schools) in 2200 public School Governing Bodies and targeting a possible parent electorate pool approximating 3 million individuals, the need for intensive planning and proper coordination was essential. The management of the elections exercise straddled all levels of the provincial education system and brought to bear the efforts of thousands of electoral officials based at the head office, district and school levels. At the central level, a 20-person Project Steering Committee was established that incorporatedthe efforts of relevant GDE and MGSLG line functionaries to coordinate the complete delivery of the elections programme. This team was ably supported by a 20 person Provincial Implementation Team (PIT) comprising of the formally appointed District Electoral Officers (15) from each district. At the district level formally appointed district electoral teams accompanied by school support officials managed the elections exercise for each public school in the district. At the localised level, each public school had a formally appointed School Electoral Officer (Principal) and Deputy School Electoral Officer (Deputy Principal) to oversee the preparations for the election at their own school and conduct the elections in a neighbouring school. The broad scope of the elections exercise drew interest from all sectors of society and encouraged the creation of new formations such as SGB Associations that represent the parent constituency of the school governance structure. As a broader set of education stakeholders, the SGB Associations offered a useful sounding board for all policy and legislative initiatives being pursued by provincial and national ministries in the schooling arena. To this end, the SGB Associations in Gauteng were considered fundamental to the success of any SGB elections Programme rollout in the province and their participation in a joint Multi Stakeholder Forum designed to oversee the roll-out of the elections at all public schools in Gauteng proved immensely valuable. The involvement of all relevant external (non-government) stakeholders in a school-based elections exercise is rare. The hosting of Imbizos and the creation of a Multi Stakeholder Forum (MSF) by the Member of the Executive Council (MEC) for Education represented a unique achievement by the GDE to accommodate the involvement of all School Governing Body Associations, the Independent Electoral Commission, the Matthew Goniwe School of Leadership & Governance and the Gauteng Department of Education in partnership to secure the success of the 2012 SGB Elections in Gauteng. The consolidated efforts of the relevant GDE-MGSLG coordination structures, the MSF, the IEC and the broader parent and school governing body associations contributed significantly to the overall success of the 2012 SGB Elections. It is no surprise therefore that 95% of all Gauteng public schools successfully conducted their SGB elections within the month of March 2012.

 3. How did the initiative solve the problem and improve people’s lives?
Given the 3-year time span between SGB elections, the 2012 experience differed in fundamental ways from all the previous election exercises. The overall coordination of the exercise extended beyond the confines of the education department. The involvement of external (non-government) stakeholders (the Multi-Stakeholder Forum and the representation of School Governing Body Associations) to support external oversight and increase accountability was a unique feature of this elections exercise. The involvement of the Independent Electoral Commission, the country’s supreme elections convening authority, represents a further innovation in raising the overall profile of a nationally focused albeit school-based elections exercise. While not formally implemented the 2012 SGB Elections exercise also enabled the development of a web-based SGB Management System that has been primed to support all future SGB elections exercise in the province. The system once formally deployed to the school level will allow for all elections exercises to be automated at site level. To date, the system manages the biographical and training data of all SGB members elected in the 2012 elections.

C. Execution and Implementation

 4. In which ways is the initiative creative and innovative?
The 2012 SGB Elections Action Plan revolved around the following key components: • The finalization of national and provincial legislation/regulations and conformance and compliance with the said legislation by the department and officials at all levels of the system • The establishment of management and coordination structures at the provincial, district and school level with appropriate terms of reference to oversee the delivery of the elections at the school level • The identification, orientation and training of all relevant management, coordination and electoral officials to roll-out the elections exercise effectively • The development and implementation of an advocacy and communication plan • The establishment, management and support of a multi stakeholder forum to engage with external partners to obtain grassroots feedback about the roll-out of the elections programme • The development of an appropriate monitoring and evaluation system to include user-friendly reporting systems and tools to manage the elections • The institutionalization of electoral management structures and processes to deal with election irregularities • The management and deployment of rapid response teams to intervene in crises situations • The development of an SGB Management System to automate all elections processes going forward and to record all elected SGB members form the 2012 cohort

 5. Who implemented the initiative and what is the size of the population affected by this initiative?
The design of the 2012 SGB Elections Programme was fundamentally the combined effort of the Gauteng Department of Education (GDE) and the Matthew Goniwe School of Leadership & Governance (MGSLG). The broad macro plan for the delivery of the programme was compiled, refined, reviewed and approved by the Provincial Steering Committee. The primary stakeholders involved in the implementation of the programme constituted the following key structures: a) Project Steering Committee – GDE Head Office officials and MGSLG b) Provincial Implementation Team – GDE Provincial Electoral Officer, District Electoral Officers and MGSLG Senior Project Managers c) District Electoral Team – GDE District Director, District Electoral Officer and District Monitoring officials d) School Election Teams – School Electoral Officer (Principal) and Deputy School Electoral Officer (Deputy Principal) e) Multi-Stakeholder Forum – Representatives of all School Governing Body Associations in the province, the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), GDE Head Office officials and MGSLG School Governance Directorate staff members
 6. How was the strategy implemented and what resources were mobilized?
The project was fully funded by the Gauteng Department of Education (GDE) to the tune of R20, 4 million. This constituted the chief financial resource allocated for the 2012 SGB elections. The key financial cost drivers involved the training requirements that backed this exercise. To this end a significant amount of the budget was allocated to the training of the school, district and head office officials that were leading and managing the elections processes at their various levels. The GDE also prioritized investment to the tune of R2 million for the development of an SGB Elections Management System so that all future elections exercises could be fundamentally automated. This required the appointment of an external service provider and the establishment of a technical team comprising of the GDE and MGSLG specialists to assist with the content components of the system.

 7. Who were the stakeholders involved in the design of the initiative and in its implementation?
The most successful outputs of the 2012 SGB Elections exercise involved the following: a) The development of an SGB Management System to automate all future SGB elections exercises. The system constitutes a web-based application that can be utilised at the school level and has been developed with the required accountability measures and controls to determine the freeness and fairness of all future SGB elections exercises. b) The hosting of Imbizos (mass consultative meetings with the general public) as an advocacy medium to attract and direct citizen attention towards the importance of participating in a fully democratic process to constitute the school governing body. c) The creation of a centrally located Call Centre to attend to all elections queries proved incredibly successful in directing intervention teams from the GDE to trouble spots and assisted with general queries form the public about the process. d) The establishment of a Multi Stakeholder Forum comprising representatives all from School Governing formations in the province together with representation from the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) to provide an additional external stakeholder thrust towards improved accountability and oversight. e) At the conclusion of the elections exercise it was reported that 2162 schools had successfully completed the exercise with only 29 grievances and 7 appeals in the overall. This clearly illustrates the successful management and coordination of the SGB Elections exercise in the province

 8. What were the most successful outputs and why was the initiative effective?
The monitoring and evaluation of the 2012 SGB Elections Programme was wide-spanning and operated at 3 distinct levels, namely, Provincially, district and school levels. a) At the Provincial level seventy nine (79) SGB Provincial Monitors were appointed in the Provinceto take on the task of monitoring the elections programme. Eight hundred and forty six (846) schools were monitored over the period 1 March to 15 April 2012. The monitors were armed with relevant monitoring tools and schedules and these were discussed on a weekly basis. b) The Project Steering Committee managed the overall coordination of the elections programme and met fortnightly to report on progress and to directlyaddress issues of management concern. c) The Provincial Implementation Team that included the Provincial Electoral Officer, the District Electoral Officers and MGSL met monthly to determine progress in respect of the implementation of SGB Elections Programme project plan. On the ground issues were attended to immediately and this team also provided guidance to the technical team that were developing the SGB Management System d) A call centre was established by MGSLG to deal with all day-to-day SGB election related enquiries and a team of Data capturers were appointed to capture SGB information that was submitted by districts. e) The Multi Stakeholder Forum met with GDE senior officials on a monthly basis to discuss election progress and to address SGB election related enquiries. In effect therefore the monitoring and evaluation strategy adopted for the 2012 SGB Election Programme was wide-spanning and incorporated the efforts of both internal and external stakeholders as illustrated above.

 9. What were the main obstacles encountered and how were they overcome?
The roll-out of the 2012 SGB elections was not conducted without challenges. Some of the challenges lay beyond the scope of the province to direct given that the timing of an election has to be promulgated at the national level. Other challenges were generally process driven and may only be suitably addressed in the next round of SGB elections in 2015. To this end, the issues detailed below highlight the areas of possible intervention in the next round of SGB elections a) The National Minster announced the election date very late. This factor on its own accounted for the general disruption of the planning processes that characterised the elections in the province. The announcement of March 2013 as election season towards the end of January 2012 offered all provinces only a month in which to prepare the ground for the delivery of the SGB election in all public schools. b) A further disruptive element involved the significant delay in the promulgation of the provincial SGB Elections regulations. The regulations were only promulgated towards the end of February 2012. This placed many electoral officers in a quandary given that there no clarity in respect of national versus provincial competence and the applicability of relevant national versus provincial policies, legislation and/or regulations. c) The late delivery of training to relevant electoral officials given that this was tied to the national announcement and the promulgation of the provincial regulations d) The lack of relevant and detailed knowledge of the South African Schools Act may have contributed to approved elections processes being transgressed unnecessarily or inadvertently. This speaks to the need for the enhancement of the knowledge base of the officials so that they are better able to manage the elections in line with existing regulations, policies and legislation. e) The Twinning of Schools that was the adopted as the approved operational strategy to facilitate the more efficient election of the SGB was also prone to manipulation by common-minded school officials who could collude to influence the outcome of the exercise. This required increased vigilance and tighter monitoring by district based monitoring officials. f) The Appeals process was managed at the Provincial level and this created unnecessary tensions and produced delays that could have been avoided if suitably capacitated district officials were allowed to deal with such appeals at a localised district level g) The collection and collation of relevant statistical data proved cumbersome until formally approved instruments for data collection were developed and circulated to all relevant officials. The effective use of the newly-developed SGB Management System will in future SGB Elections exercises provide improved status reports backed by relevant data to support informed decision-making.

D. Impact and Sustainability

 10. What were the key benefits resulting from this initiative?
At the outset it needs to be noted that each qualifying public school was able to successfully elect and constitute a School Governing Body. 95% of the schools completed the exercise within the prescribed time and only a small minority of grievances and irregularities were reported at the conclusion of the March 2012 timeframe. By June 2012, 99% of all schools had already established their SGBs and were well on their way to assuming all the expected roles and responsibilities allocated to them. The establishment of a School Governing Body in each public school is an extension of the constitutional mandate to develop a democratic state and to democratize all state institutions so that the citizens of our country have a clear say in the manner in which schools are governed. The creation of an SGB Database incorporating all the newly elected SGB members strengthened the capacity of the GDE to prioritise clearly specified capacity building and training initiatives for the newly elected representatives in the 2200 schools in the province. The 2012 training strategy adopted for all school governors accommodated the handover process where the serving SGB members were prepared for the transfer of all tools, records and instruments to the incumbents following the elections. All newly elected SGB members were taken through an inauguration process led by the political head of the province and thereafter all such members were provided with a full induction programme and supporting Toolkits to assist them in the execution of their responsibilities. In terms of sheer impact, one needs to be alerted to the fact that the functionality of an SGB is dependent on multiple factors. Given the training and support rendered by the GDE in partnership with the MGSLG, it is clear that the overwhelming majority of public schools in Gauteng have established SGBs as expected. The induction training offered to all newly elected SGB members to SGB members accommodated 8745 out of a possible 10647 participants and is reflective of the high training take-up rate (82%) of the incumbents. Given the absolute minority of reported cases of SGB dysfunctionality, it is evident that SGBs in the main are executing their expected roles and responsibilities effectively. Thus the increasing stability of the GDE and the ever increasing academic performance rates in the national assessments (National Senior Certificate and Annual National Assessments) is indicative of the general positive impact of GDE interventions.

 11. Did the initiative improve integrity and/or accountability in public service? (If applicable)
The roll-out of the 2012 SGB Elections Programme constituted the 6th exercise of this nature in the province. With each successive roll-out since 1994, the programme has been enhanced and completion rates more efficiently obtained. Institutionally, the GDE capacity to deliver the elections in public schools is made possible through the principals and deputy principals currently serving in the system. It goes without saying that the ex-officio status afforded to all principals has enabled them to generate the longest rates of SGB longevity. To this extent, it is noteworthy that all principals and deputy principals i.e. the most likely layer to replace all principals were trained to manage elections in their schools and to conduct the elections in neighbouring schools. In total 6264 a participant from this cohort were trained and in sum approximates 3 persons per school that could to serve in the role of a School Electoral Officer during SGB elections. This creates a complete layer of school based staff to continue operationalizing any SGB elections exercise over the general 3-year period but also in-between election periods to conduct by-elections as necessary. The capacity building programme also directed itself towards strengthening the capacity of districts to oversee and manage the SGB elections programme. In this regard 830 participants from all 15 districts were trained to support and oversee any SGB Elections Process. This in effect translates into a very favourable ratio of 1 official for every 3 public schools to render support and manage any future SGB Elections exercise. The engagement and involvement of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) in the 2012 SGB elections programme provides the GDE with an additional set of scaffolding to safely and rigorously deliver SGB elections processes and outcomes that will deemed free, fair and largely irregularities-free. The SGB elections programme is a national initiative and all provincial departments are expected to support and deliver these processes in all their public schools. While the basic processes and procedures are expected to be identical it is the management and oversight of these processes that differences may prevail. Thus the best practices of the GDE experience have been documented and these have been discussed at the Department of Basic Education (DBE) to be shared with all other provinces. The final 2012 SGB Elections Report constitutes a public record of the exercise and has been reported upon by the political head at relevant statutory forums. The reports as presented indicate all innovations and offer considerable opportunity for replication across all provinces in the country

 12. Were special measures put in place to ensure that the initiative benefits women and girls and improves the situation of the poorest and most vulnerable? (If applicable)
In terms of an overall set of lessons learnt as a result of the roll-out of the 2012 SGB Elections Programme, the key points are discussed below: • The rollout of the elections programme is preceded by a formal pronouncement made by the National Minister and in this regard the timing of the pronouncement is critical. Although provinces have little control over this matter the importance of national coordination of the elections exercise was highlighted. Ultimately alignment between national and provincial legislation in terms of the pronouncement of the elections was highlighted as an area of intervention. • The late promulgation of the required provincial regulations also highlighted the importance of timeously attending to the creation of a reliable regulatory and legislative environment to facilitate the SGB Elections process. • A properly thought through and well-designed advocacy programme that is timeously rendered is necessary for any SGB elections programme. • The need to build effective data management capacity at the district level will improve the monitoring and evaluation of the SGB elections programme going forward. • The production of an all-encompassing Elections manual that could serve as both a training resource and as a ready reference for each electoral officer would contribute to overcoming the knowledge gaps displayed by some electoral officials in the field. • All Training that precedes an election exercise should be completed at least 6 months prior to the elections rollout. Additionally, pre-election training for all targeted electoral officers should be compulsory, timely and comprehensive. In order to enhance preparations for the 2015 SGB Elections, it was proposed that the training of all targeted officials should be done at least six months in advance of an election. • The replication of all structures such as the Steering Committee and the Multi Stakeholder Forum (MSF) at district level has the potential to improve the coordination, monitoring and reporting of the elections going forward. • The MSF be activated with a clear terms of reference and at least one full year in advance of any future SGB election. • The identification of a dedicated district level data manager that oversees the collection and collation of all elections data and the training of district officials on how to use and analyse the data were deemed critical. It was noted that the quest for data may be supported through the widened use of the recently developed SGB Management System. The SGB Management System will also ensure that an accurate and updated database of all SGB members is readily available to all that require such. • The existing practice of twinning of schools in the roll-out process should be reviewed on the grounds that educators (principals) with a vested interest in the outcome of the elections exercise tend to collude and increase the possibility of elections irregularities. • Mock elections and By-elections be used as the testing ground for revised operational management processes • The monitoring and support offered to newly-elected SGBs should be provided consistently by the district for at least for three months after their election. • An SGB Elections hotline and support email service should be set up in advance of any future SGB elections exercise. • Frequently asked questions (FAQs) that are compiled into a booklet and located in an easily accessible electronic platform could serve as a useful tool for all SGBs and parents. • The management and oversight structures located at a provincial level should be replicated at a district level. A localised district steering committee would significantly enhance the SGB elections process. • The creation of a common voters roll template to be applied uniformly across all schools in the Province was also highlighted as a value-adding innovation to manage all future SGB Elections. • The continuous capacitation and/or training of officials to deepen their understanding of the South African Schools Act was raised as a key priority training area in preparation of any SGB elections rollout programme.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   Gauteng Department of Education
Institution Type:   Government Department  
Contact Person:   David Makhado
Title:   Director: Education Research and KM  
Telephone/ Fax:   +27 11 355 0560/ +27 86 219 8568
Institution's / Project's Website:  
Address:   P.O.Box 7710
Postal Code:   2000
City:   Johannesburg
State/Province:   gauteng

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