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Governing bodies key to mother-tongue education, says FEDSAS

The advantages of a multilingual society are well-known. Research proves that the ability to speak more than one language has social and personal as well as academic and professional value. With the celebration of World Mother Language Day on 21 February, the Federation of Governing Bodies of South African Schools (FEDSAS) will be focusing on multilingual education.

“With multilingual education we mean that children have the right to choose in which language they receive their education. Political pressure often causes us to forget that the South African education system has multilingualism as foundation – there are already schools in all eleven official languages,” says Dr Jaco Deacon, Deputy CEO of FEDSAS.

Deacon says the challenge is not the availability of mother-tongue education but rather the availability of quality education in all eleven official languages. “A school’s language policy is only one reason why parents and children prefer a specific school. The determining factor is quality education. With our focus on multilingual education FEDSAS wants to say that it is the duty of role-players to ensure that there are top schools available in all official languages. This is the only way to ensure that children receive quality education in their mother-tongue.”

The three-yearly school governing body election takes place next month. Determining a school’s language policy is one of the functions of a school governing body. “If parents and role-players in a specific school community feel that their school is not providing quality education, the SGB election offers them the opportunity to get involved. Instead of queuing to send children to good schools where they will be taught in their second language, role-players can make sure that the school in their immediate community develops into a top school.”

Here FEDSAS plays an important role in equipping governing body members. One of the many projects to ensure the quality of school governance is a guide for school governing bodies. A practical guide to school governance is available in six languages, including English, Afrikaans, Sesotho, Setswana, isiXhosa and isiZulu. It will soon be available in all eleven languages.

“Information regarding school governance is often quite technical in nature. Quality education relates directly to quality management and that is why FEDSAS wants to make the information as accessible as possible,” says Deacon.

The guide provides a short overview of the key aspects of school governance and is the ideal starting point for newly-elected governing body members and existing members who want to expand their knowledge and experience.

  • FEDSAS’ comprehensive information campaign on the SGB election includes the development of two websites where parents and other role-players can get information about the election and the role of a governing body. The websites are available at and
  • For more information about the guide please visit or contact 051-522 6903.


(FEDSAS is a voluntary association of school governing bodies of public schools and supports quality education in these schools. More than 2000 public schools are already members of FEDSAS).

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