The role of parent-teacher-student-associations (PTSAs) in the democratic governance of schools : future policy implications

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

This research study attempted to gather, present and analyse information regarding the current role of the Parent-Teacher-Student-Associations in the democratic governance of secondary schools for purposes of contributing towards the education governance policy discourse as South Africa moves away from apartheid to democracy. Central to this largely fact-finding exercise was an attempt to make a contribution to an understanding of how the Parent-Teacher-Student-Associations, in the execution of their duties, practice both democracy and accountability; operate; resolve tensions and/or differences among parents, teachers and students; impact upon the schools in general; and relate to both the Department of Education and Training and other organs of civil society. Further, this survey attempted to ascertain m which crucial areas the Parent-Teacher-Student-Associations are most lacking, and how these could be strengthened. And finally, an attempt was made in this study to contribute to the possible future role of the Parent-Teacher-Student Associations in the new democratic education dispensation, and how, in the execution of this new role the Parent-Teacher-Student-Associations should relate to the new, future democratic government. The study concluded with a number of recommendations for policy in the area of democratic school governance. The study used largely a survey method. The Parent-Teacher-Student-Associations of three secondary schools under the auspices of the Department of Education and Training in the Western Cape region were surveyed. The single most important data-gathering instrument used was the interview. Numerous conclusions were arrived at. First, the Parent-Teacher-Student-Associations studied were found to be very powerful and effective in their areas of operation in school governance despite their inability to have access to resources of power, wealth and expertise. These Parent-Teacher-Student-Associations are important education policy actors who are not only influencing policy, but are in total control of very crucial policy areas in their schools. Second, the study concluded that whereas the Parent-Teacher-Student-Associations studied represent an important step towards the full democratisation of education in general, and in their schools in particular, their role in school governance could not be described as an unqualified success. However, despite the problems associated with the PTSAs involvement in school governance, their role does have the potential to make for better schools. And finally, because of the limited nature of the study in terms of the methodology, scope and time, the conclusions arrived at here cannot and should not be generalised beyond the confines of the study as no attempt was made to embark upon regional or national research exercise.

Bibliography: pages 155-164.