- The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa (1996) [SAC]
Chapter 2, Section 32, 1(a) and (b), and 2
- The South African Schools Act, No. 84 of 1996 [SASA]
Chapter 7, Section 59, (1) and (2) determines that schools have to provide information to anyone, especially to the Superintendent-General.
- A school must make information available for inspection by any person, in so far as such information is required for the exercise and protection of such person’s rights.
- Every school must provide such information about the school as is reasonably required by the Head of Department or the Director-General of the National Department of Basic Education in consultation with the Head of Department.
- Promotion to the Access of Information Act, No. 2 of 2000 [PAIA]
This act states clearly that the National Department of Education must provide information to anyone that requires that information.
- Mediation In Certain Divorce Matters Act, 1987 as amended in Government Gazette No. 27406, March 2005 [MCDM]
- Mpumalanga Department of Education: Whistle Blowing Policy, 2014 [Reference B6 Whistle Blowing]
It is the duty of schools to provide information where and when needed. It should be provided in a simple and accurate format according to the specified time schedules
- We can distinguish between information on learners, parents, staff members, finances, the curriculum, the SGB, academic results, resources and extra curriculum activities.
- The following information may be included in an educational report:
- Personal particulars – name, grade, date of birth, ID number, address, name and address of parent/ guardian
- Academic record – a detailed report indicating whether the pupil has passed/failed
- Referrals – for example to the School Based Support Team (SBST) or District Based Support Team (DBST). The notes on these referrals should contain dates, reasons, steps taken and outcome. Disciplinary hearings and records may be included
- Grooming – appearance
- Behaviour – adjustment to school, hostel life and extracurricular activities
- Relationships – a comprehensive description of the child’s self-image and recommendations in respect thereof, where necessary.
- Evidence by departmental officials in court cases involving learners
The Department of Basic Education prefers that staff do not give evidence in court cases involving learners, but that they rather make the learner’s educational report available to the court.
However, should a departmental official receive a summons to appear in court, or learn that a summons is being considered, the official may not refuse. The following procedure will apply in such a case:
- The person who is being summoned should inform the District Office. The District Director will refer the case to the Legal Section in the provincial department who will assist the person being summoned.
- In cases where the Department of Basic Education is directly involved, even greater care should be exercised. The other party’s attorney should be advised to deal directly with the Department’s attorney.
- Should the Department of Welfare require information, it should apply in writing. Confidential information should be handled discreetly.
- Contact and co-operation between family advocates and counsellors, Principals of schools and Heads of Education Aid Centres
- The Act on Mediation in Certain Divorce Matters (No. 24 of 1987) makes provision, in divorce proceedings where dependent children are involved, for family advocates to interview such children. The family advocates do this to make informed recommendations to the court on custody, control and supervision, access rights and other important aspects which concern the children.
- To ensure that the child is the ultimate beneficiary of the legal process as it applies to divorce cases, family advocates and counsellors are permitted to contact Principals. Should they be contacted, Principals should furnish the information without delay, even if it is requested by telephone.
- Furnishing the addresses of parents
A principal may furnish the addresses of parents at his discretion, but is under no obligation to do so.
- Furnishing information to parents and educators
- The Department of Basic Education publishes educationally orientated guides as the need arises.
- Principals should ensure that the information contained herein reaches the designated people.
- The school should keep at least one copy of these guides/brochures for further reference.
- The right of parents/educators and learners to timely information is enshrined in the SA Schools Act
- Furnishing information to the media
- The principal, SGB and SMT is responsible for the public image of the school, and should foster and maintain good media relations.
- Principals, educators and spokespeople of the SGB may respond to media enquiries which do not concern government policy and which will not embarrass any members of the school community. Principals should consult with their district manager and be up to date with provincial policy and circulars in this respect.
- Emergency protocol – Visit /contact by press or other media
- Direct all enquiries or visitors to the principal’s office.
- Ask for proof of their identity.
- Establish what they want at the school.
- If it appears that they want to photograph or film anything or want a comment on anything that is contentious or potentially harmful to the school or the department explain that you are not prepared to assist and refer them firmly and politely to the district office / EDO.
- Principals and SGB’s may approach the media, especially the local media, to cover important events. These may include:
- the appointment, promotion or departure of the Principal or other staff members
- events concerning the school’s history
- the inauguration of new facilities
- the announcement of capital projects, renovation and extensions
- advertising of concerts, fêtes and functions
- interschool competitions hosted by the school
- unique school traditions
- community projects of the school
- individual achievements of pupils and staff members
- venues and times of sports matches and their results
- team and individual learner achievements.