‘Muslims must play active role in School Governing Bodies – SAMNET’

We, at the South African Muslim Network (SAMNET) would like the Muslim community to actively participate in School Governing Bodies (SGB) Elections to be held across SA Public Schools over the next few months.
These elections are legislated to be held every 3 years at the tens of thousands of Public schools & there have been proposals to extend the term of SGBs. SGBs are critical to the functioning & operation of Public schools.
It is our opinion & that of those we have engaged already, that if we can positively influence school education in SA it will directly benefit all our children’s future & that of South Africa.

It is important for Muslims to be active in the civil structures of South Africa. Our legislation & education systems encourages participation of communities in their schools & we would lose by not using this opportunity and more so now as legislation on SGB powers is under review.

BENEFITS

School Governing Bodies have a direct influence on the following, among others:
• Control of financial & operational governance of the school.
• Appointment of principals, teachers & administrators.
• Setting of fees.
• Setting & application of policy.
• Influence the ethos, values & discipline at the school.
• Influence on the way the curriculum is interpreted & applied.

All of the above can be used to influence positively & negatively:
• Access to select groups of students.
• The demographic profile of students.
• The quality of education provided by the school.

CONSIDERATIONS

It needs to be noted that the majority of our Muslim students are NOT in Private/Islamic/Majority Muslim schools. In light of this we need to consider the importance of participation & representation.
When candidates are being proposed by a group in the community there are a number of factors that should be considered:

• Any level-headed person who can work with a diverse team & add value will benefit the SGB.
• SGBs & other parents tend to also look to candidates who have beneficial skills like finance, law, education, human resources, building maintenance & fundraising.
• Candidates need to have sufficient time to participate in SGB meetings, subcommittees or projects. This is often minimal but varies by school (some require more input.)

Good candidates with the values & understanding of needs of the community who may NOT be Muslim need to be supported. However, we must caution AGAINST this being viewed as an “Islamisation” of education, where candidates’ efforts may take away from the efficient, non-racial, multi-religious & inclusive nature of public education.

Dr Faisal Suleman
SAMNET
Durban

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