An investigation of students' role within the governing structures of educational institutions

Ngaso, Khayalethu Edward (1999) An investigation of students' role within the governing structures of educational institutions. Masters thesis, Rhodes University.




The question of the role of students in the governance of educational institutions has been an issue for decades in South Africa. It arose out of the desire and struggle by black students for a better sociopolitical environment in general and in education in particular. This demand gained momentum in the years 1976,1980 and 1985. The result was the establishment of Student Representative Councils, Parent-teacher-Student's Associations at schools, Broad Transformation Forums and Governing Councils at tertiary institutions. After 1994 the government of South Africa started the major task of reconstructing the country particularly education and its governance. Democratic governance was accepted as one of the fundamentals of education by the new department of education. The Schools' Act and the Higher Education Act were passed to give effect to this new spirit in 1996 and 1997 respectively. Students had a statutory right to be involved in all matters of governance in educational institutions. However, in the past two years i.e. 1997 and 1998 the issue of student participation has become controversial with tensions erupting amongst stakeholders particularly management and students. The bone of contention this time has not been whether students have to participate or not but how far should they be involved. The National Education Policy Investigation task team had recommended as early as 1992 for the systematic analysis of the roles of the various stakeholders within the governing structures to avoid the present situation to no avail. The aim of this study therefore was to investigate students' perceptions of their role within the governing structures and to assess the implications of such a role for the management of educational institutions. Central to this largely fact finding mission was an attempt to make a contribution engaging students in this debate and get to know them afresh, thereby understand their position, what their perception is about their role in the governance of their institutions. For this purpose the study used phenomenology as the method of research. The reason for that I wanted a methodology which will enable me to produce a report which would not be contaminated with my preconceived ideas about the phenomenon. The tool used for data-gathering was the interview. In-depth interviews were conducted with four student leaders. They were selected purposely due to the fact that they were involved in the governance of their various institutions. The study revealed the complexity of this phenomenon. It indicates that student involvement is crucial for harmonious relations to prevail and the creation of a climate of learning and teaching at educational institutions. Students saw their role as that of legitimising the process of decision-making. This is coupled with enforcing the management to be transparent, bringing back the rule of law, making sure that educational institutions are transformed, that students are empowered and capacitated and looking at the welfare of students. A recommendation that emerge from the study is that much investigation is needed on student participation. Areas which needed much attention are specified in the study.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Uncontrolled Keywords:Student participation, School management, South Africa
Subjects:L Education > L Education (General)
Divisions:Faculty > Faculty of Education > Education
ID Code:2829
Deposited By: Mrs Carol Perold
Deposited On:21 May 2012 12:51
Last Modified:21 May 2012 12:51
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