SA Journal of Education, Vol 40, No 4 (2020)

School financial management: Insights for decision making in public primary schools

Adebunmi Yetunde Aina, Keshni Bipath


To realise the ideal of quality inclusive education, proper financial management is vital. Existing literature indicates that the mismanagement of school funds is largely due to principals and the school governing bodies (SGB) in many schools not having good working relationships with stakeholders and lacking the necessary financial skills, more specifically in schools in townships and rural areas. The study we report on in this article investigated the financial management of public primary schools situated in urban areas by adopting a qualitative research approach and employing a multiple case study research design. Five schools participated and data were collected through individual semi-structured interviews with the principal, school accountant and chairperson of the SGB of the selected schools. Findings revealed that, despite the fact that all South African schools are governed and controlled by the South African Schools Act, the financial management of fee-paying schools differs from no-fee schools situated in townships and rural areas. In many schools, the unavailability of the parent members of SGBs and their limited financial skills were barriers to effective financial decisions. Based on these findings, we recommend that the relevant stakeholders involved in school financial management obtain continuous training from the Department of Basic Education, in order to empower and support school governors to effectively carry out their financial functions.

ORCiD iDs of authors:
Adebunmi Yetunde Aina -
Keshni Bipath -

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