The Free State Education Department has appealed to parents to play a leading role in their children’s education.

The call comes as the province prepares to hold School Governing Body (SGB) elections.

Over one million parents in the Free State are expected to participate.

SGB elections across the country started at the beginning of March and will run until the end of next month.

The SGB polls are in line with the Schools Act and are the third-largest after the national, provincial and local government elections.

Free State Education spokesperson, Howard Ndaba, says SGBs are a critical decision-making authority in schools.

“SGB plays an important part as a liaison between the school and the community. There’s a correlation between the best performing school academically and socially and the participation of parents. So it is critical that people take this election very seriously,” says Ndaba.

The National Congress of School Governing Bodies says it’s happy with how the process is unfolding.

The organisation’s secretary, Thabang Motloung, has appealed to parents to elect ethical leadership.

“We are happy so far with the arrangement of the department. We appeal to parents to elect the people who will be able to do the functions of the schools not to put the agenda of certain people at the school,” urges Motloung.

The role of the SGB is to support the school management with, amongst others, financial administration, maintenance of the school and recommendation of staff appointments.

Free State COSAS chairperson, Katleho Mangoejane, stresses the importance of having parents in the daily running of schools.

“SGB elections are very important for running the school so that’s why we would like to encourage parents to participate and they must ensure that they elect good leaders so that they are able to run the school well,” Mangoejane says.

This is the 10th cycle of SGB elections since 1994. The elections take place every three years.