An investigation of financial accountability in schools
Ngubane, Dumisani Lucky
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This study set to investigate how School Governing Bodies (SGBs) currently execute financial accountability. This is because schools are funded mostly from public funds, and are directed to be accountable to stakeholders by the South African Schools Act No. 84 of 1996 and the Public Finance Management Act No. 1 of 1999. This means that school financial accountability is a legal requirement in terms of the laws relating to school governance and public finance management. Financial accountability, entails reporting to stakeholders in terms of how funds have been expended in relation to the mandate given to the school's accounting officer. In the case of schools, this combines the school principal and the SGB. This implies the implementation of financial accountability elements namely, financial planning, controlling, monitoring and reporting. The empirical research quantitatively used the questionnaire and qualitatively used interviews to investigate how SGBs practiced financial accountability. While the quantitative survey revealed that SGBs were financially accountable, the interviews provided insight into the phenomenon, which indicated gaps in school financial accountability namely: lack of capacity to perform financial accountability functions; poor monitoring of schools' financial management and accountability performances, both by Departmental officials and schools themselves; poor adherence to policy prescriptions as provided for in the South African Schools Act and the Public Finance Management Act. It is therefore recommended that SGBs should explore simplification of financial accountability language to suit the parents' level of understanding; principals and educators need capacity -building to be able to handle communication with parents who are not educated; Departmental officials constantly to monitor and support schools in their financial accountability processes; and that Departmental Units should establish information 'feeding' channels so as to identify needs for development and support across the units, so as to intervene timely in areas needing intervention, and principals need to establish peer - assistance networks at local level so as to learn from examples of good practices from their colleagues.
- Education