Financial accountability: the principal or the school governing body?

  • R Mestry


The Schools Act 84 of 1996 prescribes how a school should manage its funds. It also provides guidelines for the school governing body and the principal on their roles and responsibilities in managing the finances of the school. However, there are school governing bodies and principals that have little knowledge of the contents of the Schools Act or are simply interpreting it incorrectly and this has led to many schools being victims of mismanagement or misappropriation of funds in the form of embezzlement, fraud and theft. Although the Department of Education provides training for school governing bodies in financial management, financial problems in many schools have not abated. The principal or members of the school governing body (SGB) may choose to sweep these financial problems under the carpet for fear of being implicated. In instances where financial problems have been taken up with school districts in the Department of Education, many of these problems remain unresolved. Who is accountable for the school's finances, the principal or the governing body of the school? In the case Schoonbee and others v MEC for Education, Mpumalanga and Another (unreported case No. 33750/01) (T), the issue of accountability was raised. Should the principal or the SGB be held responsible and accountable for the school funds? The decision in this case has far-reaching implications for the various role players in school financial management. This article explores the role functions of the SGB and the principal and determines to what extent these parties are accountable for the financial school management. Guidelines have been developed that will ensure schools are managing their funds effectively and efficiently.

South African Journal of Education Vol.24(2) 2004: 126-132

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 2076-3433
print ISSN: 0256-0100