n South African Journal of Education - In defence of deliberative democracy : challenging less democratic school governing body practices

Volume 25, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0256-0100
  • E-ISSN: 2076-3433



One of the major features of the democratisation of education in South Africa revolves around the decentralisation of school governance. In this regard important decision-making responsibilities have devolved from central government to "self-governing" school communities, incorporated into School Governing Bodies (SGBs). The study explores current practices of SGBs in se lected schools in the Grassy Park area of the Western Cape. It seeks to demonstrate that a dichotomy appears to exist between the ideals of democratic policies as espoused in the South African Schools Act of 1996 and the manner in which these democratic ideals / policies are interpreted / implemented. The promulgation of the South African Schools Act of 1996 heralded the beginning of a new phase in the governance of schools. However, the mere promulgation of policy does not necessarily imply its effective implementation. It is argued that despite the existence of the South African Schools Act (SASA), school governing practices do not seem to be conclusively democratic. Unless school governing practices are reconceptualised and restructured in accordance with a notion of deliberative democracy, such practices will continue to remain less democratic.

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