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South African Journal of Education

On-line version ISSN 2076-3433
Print version ISSN 0256-0100


PRINSLOO, Sakkie. The dual role of the principal as employee of the Department of Education and ex officio member of the governing body. S. Afr. j. educ. [online]. 2016, vol.36, n.2, pp.01-09. ISSN 2076-3433.

In terms of section 15 of the Schools Act, a public school is a legal person ("juristic person") with legal capacity to perform its functions under the Act. The Schools Act distinguishes between governance and professional management, assigning the former to the governing body and the latter to the principal of the school (section 16(1) and 16(3)). The professional management of a public school must be undertaken by the principal under the authority of the Head of Department. Section 16(A) makes provision for the functions and responsibilities of principals of public schools. Section 16(A) lists the tasks and responsibilities for which the principal as employee of the Department of Education is accountable to the Head of Department. The principal is however also accountable to the governing body for the implementation of statutory functions or policies regarding admission, language, religion and school funds that are delegated to him or her by the governing body in terms of the Schools Act. Since 1996, an increasing number of court cases and disciplinary hearings took place in which provincial heads of education departments were challenged for unlawful actions against principals due to the latter's implementation of the statutory functions of governing bodies. Principals therefore seem to be caught between their role as employee of the Department of Education and ex officio member of the governing body of their public school.

Keywords : Accountability; Authority; Conflicting assignments; Juristic person [legal person]; Mutual responsibility; Partnership; Professional management; Promote [protect]; School governance; Statutory functions.

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