The government has opened the School Governing Body (SGB) elections in all public schools in the country today. They will run from 6-30 March 2015. This is an opportunity once again for our public schools to renew their contract of community ownership of the people’s education to ensure that education remains a societal issue in South Africa.
Research shows that the academic performance of a school in general and that of learners in particular improves when parents are actively involved in the life of the school and the academics of the child. Hence, all parents and activists in our communities must not miss this responsibility particularly black Africans.
I am addressing this to black African parents in particular because I have first hand experience of absent parents in my academic involvement in my days in basic education. Black parents neglect the education of their children so much that you get embarrassed when you begin to observe and compare them to white parents in private schools.
Most white parents are always involved in the academic work of their children everyday. A homework of a white child becomes a family meeting overnight, on weekends they are in the sports filelds of their children cheering them on a rugby game whilst they braai on the side, and on Wednesday evenings they are present in the audience inside the auditorium of the private school to watch their child play a piano or play Romeo in the schools drama society. They know all the teachers of their child and are in possession of their cellphone numbers. All these things play a very important part in the self-esteem, personal development and cognitive psychology of a child. This is the basic phenomenon of parenthood that is neglected by our people.
It is in these gatherings also were these active white parents meet and create networks amongst each other and with the staff of the school, thus making it easy for them to ascend to positions of executive governance of the school when a time like this one has arrived, the time of SGBis in the platform of the SGB level where the administrative, financial and ideological outlook of a school gets shaped; a platform where our people are absent on. Parents of white capital seat with the capitalist staff of these former model C schools and take decisions that bind all learners in the school together with their parents, black and white.
That is why today it was so easy for the white racist parents of children attending Curro Foundation School in Pretoria to instruct the principal Mr Johan Bisset to “stop admitting many blacks” because their white children will feel “intimidated” of the “white flight” that will take place. That is why also, racist colored parents of Roodeport Primary School in Johannesburg found it easy to close classrooms in January protesting the appointment of a black principal Ms Nomathemba Molefe to head that school. Such racism in our schools is finding confidence to raise its ugly head without shame because there is no revolutionary voice in the SGBs of these schools to expose it and destroy it.
Black African parents must begin to take SGB elections seriously in all public schools of this country. They must also begin to be getting involved in the everyday life of their children both academically and in their extra curricular activities. I understand that given the historical race, class and patriarchal realities that engulf society today including the demon of black African broken families, poverty, structural unemployment and inequality, it is not scientific to compare white parenthood and black parenthood. As that it may be, I do not think that this gives black African parenthood the liberty not to know what grade their child is doing, who are the names of their child’s friends and the shoe size of their child. It is shocking that some of our people who are parents don’t even know what subjects their child is doing in school.
I urge our people to take their children’s education seriously. They must take SGBs seriously. They must understand that their children’s rights to an education comes with a responsibility from the parents even though they either pay fees or not. They must attend parents meetings in school. That is how we will realize community control of our schools. Beautiful outcomes in examination results do not depend on the government or the teachers but rather they depend on the collective effort and hard work of parents, teachers, learners, the government and the community. All these stakeholders must pull in one direction for there to be success. It must be a collective race to the top. That is how we will shape the ideological outlook of these schools to be biased to the aspirations and needs of the working class majority. Our strategic objective of making sure that doors of learning and culture shall be opened for all to an education that will teach our youth their culture, peace and unconditional love for their people begins now.