DEMOCRATIC SCHOOL GOVERNANCE, LEADERSHIP AND MANAGEMENT: A CASE STUDY OF TWO SCHOOLS IN SOUTH AFRICA
This article reports on a qualitative study that investigated the functioning of school governing bodies (SGBs) as a tool for promoting democracy in two schools. Data was gathered through interviews, observations and document reviews. Findings revealed that democracy was in existence and practised at both schools and that it was characterised by shared decision making and acknowledged rights of individuals, representations, participation and equality. Two structures for promoting democracy were found to be in existence in both schools. These are school governing bodies and representative councils for learners. Such structures were found to be functioning effectively and contributing to the democracy in schools. However, although the learner voice was represented at both schools, learner participation in crucial issues in both the schools was limited. The study recommends that all teachers, learners and parent representatives on the SGBs be trained in skills such as deliberation, debate, dialogue and managing differences. Furthermore, training or capacity building related to advocacy skills and leadership development should be provided for all members of the SGBs, including teachers. The more learners, parents and staff are involved in school policy and decision making, the more there is a genuine community involvement in schools, and the more effective a school becomes. Also, schools need to move towards learnerinitiated decision making where learners initiate the process and invite adults to join them in making decisions. Also, there is need for teachers to be trained in democratic ways of operating in the school and classroom, which will possibly help them learn ways of working democratically in both the whole school and the classroom.
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