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South African Journal of Education

Print version ISSN 0256-0100

Abstract

MABOVULA, Nonceba. Giving voice to the voiceless through deliberative democratic school governance. S. Afr. j. educ. [online]. 2009, vol.29, n.2, pp. 219-233. ISSN 0256-0100.

I focus on the role of learners in the governance of secondary schools. I seek to promote a voice for learner expression as guaranteed in the national Department of Education's guidelines for Representative Council of Learners as part of promoting democratic governance. The potential, limitations, constraints, conse­quen­ces, and challenges facing learners in the school governance structure need to be revealed and debated. The views of school principals were solicited by means of unstructured open-ended questionnaires. Six problem areas emerged from the data. The irony is that although the democratisation of school governance has given all stakeholders a powerful voice in school affairs, learners' voices are, seemingly, being silenced. In attempting to resolve the problem, a new model of democratic school governance to be known as 'deliberative democratic school governance' (DDSG) is suggested. There are several DDSG approaches that can be employed in creating elements for stakeholder empowerment and in driving deliberative democratic school governance forward. These include inclusion, motivational communication, consensus, deliberation/ dialogue, collaboration, and conflict resolution. Some school governance stake­holders and schools may use only one or a few of these strategies to create spaces for learner voices in their respective schools.

Keywords : deliberative democracy; learners; principals; school governance; South African Schools Act.

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