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Chapter 10

LEARNER MATTERS

10.4 REPRESENTATIVE COUNCIL OF LEARNERS

10.4.1Legislative and Policy Framework

ACTS

  • The South African Schools Act, No. 84 of 1996 [SASA]
  • The National Education Policy Act, 1996 (Act No. 27 of 1996) [NEPA]

10.4.2Framework for the Development of School Policy on The Representative Council of Learners

  1. The South African Schools Act states that a Representative Council of Learners (RCL) at the school must be established at every public school enrolling learners in the eighth grade or higher and such council is the only recognized and legitimate representative learner body at the school. Subject to policy made in terms of section 3(4)(g) of the National Education Policy Act, 1996 (Act No. 27 of 1996), the Member of the Executive Council must, by notice in the Provincial Gazette, determine the functions and the procedures for the establishment and election of representative councils of learners.  The Member of the Executive Council may, by notice in the Provincial Gazette, exempt a public school for learners with special education needs from complying if it is not practically possible for a representative council of learners to be established at the school.
  2. Introduction
    The South African Schools Act provides for greater participation by learners in the democratic functioning of schools. Every public school enrolling learners in grade eight and higher must establish a RCL. This also underlines the fundamental constitutional principles of co-operative governance and participative management. The South African Schools Act also provides for learners to be represented on the School Governing Bodies of their school.  This will provide the learners with a legitimate role to play in school governance.  The implications above for all public schools are that they must:

    • have in place a RCL elected through a democratic process;
    • regard the RCL as the only legitimate and recognized learner body in the school; and
    • put in place measures to ensure that the RCL are representative of the racial and gender demographics of the learner population.
  3. Goals and objectives of an RCL
    • The RCL represents learners in the SGB;
    • In appropriate situations, an RCL provides learners with an opportunity to participate in decision-making regarding the school;
    • The RCL educates learners to function within democracy;
    • It must build unity among learners in the school;
    • It should address the needs of all learners in the school;
    • The RCL keeps learners informed about events in the school and in the school community;
    • The RCL encourages good relationships within the school between learners and educators, and between learners and non-teaching staff;
    • It encourages good relationships within the school between teachers and parents of learners; and
    • The RCL establishes fruitful links with other schools.
  4. Minimum Requirements of a Constitution of a Students’ Representative Council
    • The Constitution will indicate clearly the name by which the Students’ Representative Council wishes to be known.
    • The Constitution will set out clearly such information as is necessary to ensure effective communication with the Students’ Representative Council by interested parties.
    • The Constitution will set out such aims and objectives as are feasible and which fall within the framework established by law.
    • The Constitution will indicate which activities the Students’ Representative Council shall perform in the furtherance of its aims and the achievement of its objectives and which fall within the framework established by law.
    • The Constitution will set out procedures for meetings of the Students’ Representative Council and its Executive Committee.
    • The Constitution will stipulate that members of the Students’ Representative Council and members of its Executive Committee may hold office for a period not exceeding one year.
    • The Constitution will stipulate that a decision to amend the Constitution shall require a two-thirds majority of the total membership of the Students’ Representative Council after all members have been informed of such proposed amendments in writing at least two months in advance.
    • The Constitution will stipulate that if too few members are present at the meeting contemplated in the above paragraph above, a second meeting shall be called exclusively for this purpose at least two weeks after the first meeting.
    • The Constitution will stipulate that if two-thirds of the members are not present at this second meeting, the proposed amendments may be effected by two-thirds of the members present.
    • The Constitution will stipulate that all amendments to the Constitution shall be submitted to the Head of Department for confirmation that they are consistent with the provisions of the School Education Act, 1995 (Act No. 6 of 1995) and its regulations, and that until such confirmation is received, no amendment to the Constitution shall be valid.
  5. Elections
    • The Teacher Liaison Officer
      The teacher liaison officer must be an educator at the school concerned.  The main function of this educator should be to guide and organise the RCL and develop a sense of leadership in the members of the RCL.
    • The election of the Executive Committee
      The duly elected representatives shall elect from among their ranks at least the following office-bearers of the Students’ Representative Council, who shall comprise the Executive Committee of the Students’ Representative Council –

      • a President;
      • a Treasurer; and
      • a Secretary.
        No member of the Students’ Representative Council may hold more than one office in the Executive Committee of the Students’ Representative Council.
    • Processes
      Process of electing the classroom representatives

      • The process of electing classroom representatives involves learners in all classes. Each teacher will assist in ensuring that the democratic principles are adhered to.
      • The election of Representative Council of Learners (both Class Representative and Executive Committees) must be conducted at the beginning of January of each academic year.
      • The Teacher Liaison Officer will conduct the RCL elections.
      • Each Class must elect at least one representatives to the RCL structure.
      • Class Representatives will in all instances (with the exception of single gender schools) be represented by both genders i.e. one boy and one girl.
      • The Teacher Liaison Officer will pronounce the day of the elections of the Class Representatives at least five days before the actual elections.
      • During the first three days before the elections, the Teacher Liaison Officer shall coordinate and monitor the nomination process.
      • On the fourth day after the announcement of the elections date the Teacher Liaison Officer shall organize and coordinate a MANIFESTO DAY where all the nominated candidates shall present their Manifestos to their fellow classmates.
      • The Teacher Liaison Officer shall coordinate these elections, and the class/grade educators shall assist in monitoring the election proceedings in the classroom.
      • The elections of the Class Representatives shall be by secret ballot.
      • Counting shall be done in the presence of all learners in the class but in the absence of the nominees.
      • The formal announcements of the election results shall be done in the presence of all learners in the school preferably during morning assembly. The date of the Executive Committee Elections shall be announced at this assembly/meeting and it shall take place ten days after this event.
    • The process of electing the school’s RCL executive committee.
      The RCL Executive Committee will be the structure that will carry the mandate of learners within the school. The teacher liaison officer will ensure that the election process adheres to the principles of free and fair elections.

      • The elections of the schools RCL Executive Committee shall take place in January, immediately after the Class Representatives elections.
      • All learners in the school shall have a right to nominate candidates to serve in the RCL Executive Committee.
      • Only learners in the RCL (i.e. Class Representatives) shall be eligible to be nominated
      • The Teacher Liaison Officer shall pronounce the day of the elections at least ten days before the actual elections.
      • During the first five days before the elections, the Teacher Liaison Officer shall manage and monitor the nomination process.
      • Two days before the elections, the Teacher Liaison Officer shall organize a MANIFESTO DAY where all the nominated candidates shall present their Manifestos to the student body.
      • A day before the elections, the Teacher Liaison Officer in conjunction with the School Management Team shall dedicate an hour of the day to caucus time where Class Representatives shall be taking mandates from their Classmates on who to vote for and for what position.
      • Only Class Representatives shall be eligible to vote for the RCL Executive Committee.
      • The elections of the Executive Committee shall be by secret ballot.
      • Counting shall be done in the presence of all Class Representatives but in the absence of the nominees.
      • Announcements of election results shall be done in the presence of all Class Representatives including the nominees.
      • The Principal and the SGB Chairperson shall co-acknowledge (in writing) the RCL members that shall have been elected as the Executive Committee.
      • The School’s RCL Executive Committee shall have six Office Bearers – the President, Deputy President, Secretary, Deputy Secretary, Treasurer and Public Relations Officer (PRO).