It is School Governing Body (SGB) election season in public schools all around South Africa until the end of March 2021 and two schools in the rural Eastern Cape town of Komani are the first in their province to have employed a comprehensive online voting system, making it easier for parents to influence that their children’s schools are well governed.
SGB members are volunteers who sit for a period of three years, together with the Principal (by virtue of his or her official capacity) and, at times, co-opted members, to promote the best interest of the school. Parents, staff, teachers as well as learners form part of the SGB elections.
Queen’s College Boys’ High School and Balmoral Girls’ Primary School elected to pilot VotingCrowd (cloud based voting software), acclaimed by the Eastern Cape Department of Basic Education, as well as FEDSAS and the GBE as being the only such SGB-compliant system currently available.
Users voted by means of an app or by using internet browsers and their votes are stored forever in case an audit is ever necessary. For those parents without access to data, an electronic voting booth at the school was also available. The process also catered for the possibility of a duly entitled parent who did not appear on the schools’ voters roll.
Quorums were quickly reached in the innovative online process and both participating schools enjoyed a higher rate of voting than in previous years. They are also contemplating using such software for RCL elections in future.
Queenstown Education Foundation (QEF) Director Andrew Alt spearheaded the project of piloting the new online platform in two of its member schools who form part of a 11-school network in Komani and beyond. Together, the schools are invested in transforming the town into a universally-recognised centre of educational excellence. Says Alt, “We hope next year more of our schools will embrace this technology. The legitimacy and quality of SGBs is directly driven by the level of participation, anything that improves the ease with which parents can vote is a very good thing.”
SGB members are volunteers who sit for a period of three years, together with the Principal (by virtue of his or her official capacity) and, at times, co-opted members, to promote the best interest of the school by adopting a constitution , a mission statement and a code of conduct which sets out disciplinary procedures for learners at the school. It also decides on school policy including, amongst others, admissions, language and finance.