“School governing bodies are a very essential unit in the management and running of a school. These are the most pivotal bodies responsible for the day-to-today running of schools, and without them, schools cannot operate well,” Andabati, Teaching and Learning Materials Coordinator Girls’ Education South Sudan (GESS).
As part of GESS’ quality education component, the programme provides support to school governing bodies across South Sudan. These include the School Management Committees (SMCs) for primary schools and the Boards of Governors (BoGs) for secondary schools. The SMCs and BoGs are a variation of the traditional parent-teacher association to include the school head girl and head boy, as well as parent representatives, a representative for disability inclusion, community members, the head teacher, and deputy head teacher. These committees are usually made up of 13 members.
GESS trains the school governing bodies to increase their capacity. Amongst others, the areas of training, and responsibilities of these bodies include:
Carrying out a needs assessment in schools
Identifying development priorities
How to compile a school development plan
Mobilising additional funds to implement the school development plan
Carrying out school improvement and school development activities
Monitoring learners’ attendance
Monitoring teachers’ attendance
In Unity State, there has been visible progress in school governance and improvements to the school environments, all championed by the SMCs.
“This school was not fenced. Members of the community would be passing through the school as they go to the market while children are in class. It was almost like a road passing through the school, and it was not good for learning. After we got trained on how to mobilise resources, we (SMC members) agreed to collect poles from the community members to help in erecting a fence. After collecting the poles, we asked every parent to contribute 100 South Sudanese Pounds (SSP) to buying nails, and then one well-wisher helped us with the iron sheets, now the school is fenced and the children learn better because they are not distracted, and they are safer,” Koal, SMC Chairperson, Unity A Primary School in Unity State.
The training for SMC and BoG members is carried out in schools by GESS School Officers. “We train the SMCs and the BoGs in the schools routinely and carry out follow-ups or refresher training to ensure that they are working well. I have seen progress in their work even though there are challenges. The members of these committees are dedicated even though they do not get paid to do this work,” Stephen, School Officer in Unity State.
GESS believes that an active and empowered school governing body will transform schools for the better. “We don’t train SMCs and BoGs to only utilise capitation grants (link to CGs) given to them by GESS but to mobilise resources through other means for schools to run smoothly. If they grasp this and implement it, they will not wait for donations and that’s what we hope for. An active school governing body which is empowered means a better-managed school. A better-managed school means better performance and that is the end goal- for children to be taught well and excel,” Kute, GESS State Anchor Team Leader in Unity State.
Despite challenges faced by the school governing bodies, members continue to remain hopeful and perform their duties. “Sometimes it is difficult to do something like development in the school when we are promised grants, but they are not delivered. But these are our children, we cannot give up on our work, we will do what we can in our capacity to ensure that the school is running well. Our motivation is seeing children complete school someday and making the life of people in our community better,” Gatluak an SMC member.
GESS continues to work across South Sudan supporting different elements of education. GESS is an inclusive programme that will transform the lives of a generation of children in South Sudan – especially girls and those on the margins of society– through education. School governance is one of the elements of the programme that GESS will continue to work on to improve the quality of education in South Sudan.