Importance of PTA in schools

John Kabera, a retired civil servant, was on the management committee of a school his son attended back in the 1980s. He represented parents on the Parents Teachers Association (PTA) committee. Kabera remembers discussions during such meetings would get heated especially if things were not going well in the school. “Why is the school performing poorly? Why are cases of indisclipe in the school high? How can we generate revenue to improve the teachers and student’s welfare? These are some of the questions that were common during the PTA meetings. Parents were closely involved in the day to day running of the school and at the end of the day, this reflected in the performance and general outlook of the school.
Parents of Kingdom Primary School attend a meeting in the past. Students tend to be disciplined when parents are involved in the school affairs. /T. Kisambira
Parents of Kingdom Primary School attend a meeting in the past. Students tend to be disciplined when parents are involved in the school affairs. /T. Kisambira

John Kabera, a retired civil servant, was on the management committee of a school his son attended back in the 1980s. He represented parents on the Parents Teachers Association (PTA) committee. Kabera remembers discussions during such meetings would get heated especially if things were not going well in the school.

“Why is the school performing poorly? Why are cases of indisclipe in the school high? How can we generate revenue to improve the teachers and student’s welfare? These are some of the questions that were common during the PTA meetings.

Parents were closely involved in the day to day running of the school and at the end of the day, this reflected in the performance and general outlook of the school.

Research and case studies show that schools where parents are closely involved tend to have better teachers, perform better and generally there is discipline and accountability in such schools.

Education experts say that although PTAs are non-existent in most schools, they need to be revived in order to improve the quality of education in the country. PTAs which are charged with the educational, moral and spiritual well-being of the learners of a particular learning institution have been successful in many countries like Uganda, Nigeria, Ghana and Kenya among others. The Rwanda government has also moved to make PTAs compulsory in schools.

After conducting research which revealed that schools with PTAs perform better compared to those that don’t, the Ministry of Education recently resolved that the concept should be adopted by all schools countrywide.

According to the ministry, schools that have PTAs are usually more organised and perform better than those without it.

During the recently concluded national leadership retreat, it was resolved that PTAs should be mandatory in schools.

Isaac Nyarwaya, an adviser to the Minister of Education, says the involvement of parents in the school affairs is very crucial for the proper upbringing of their children.

“For many years, parents have just been sending their children to school without following up their entire academia but PTAs will draw the teachers and the parents together and this will foster good learning,” he says.’

He says as education administrators, they are going to sensitise parents about the value of getting fully involved in their children’s academic life.

“Schools that have not been having PTAs will be advised to institute them and will be sensitised on the relevance of the programme in as far as facilitating good learning is concerned,” Nyarwaya noted.

Teachers, parents welcome move

Parents and teachers this paper talked to, welcomed the development. Joyce Kirabo, an educationist and counsellor said in case of shrinking budgets and the need for infrastructure in school, the association will come in handy. She said the PTA will address issues that are important to parents and school administrators.

“If you’re a parent or teacher and your school does not have a PTA, now is the time to act. We must prepare our schools for the future that we shall be proud of,” Kirabo advises.

The head teacher of Efotec School of Excellence in Kicukiro district, Leonardo Monica Tumukunde, echoed the same views. She said PTAs require dedicated volunteers in order to achieve its goals.

Tumukunde says over 85% of the research studies conducted over the past 30 years prove that kids do better when parents are more involved in their education system than simply paying school fees. For instance when parents and teachers meet, there is usually a frank and open discussion about the challenges facing their children which leads to resolutions being taken in the interest of all concerned. Besides, parents will find it necessary to follow up their children at home because they know the particular difficulties which their children are encountering at school.

Cyprian Kalisa, a parent, says a Parents Teachers Association is fundamental in shaping students into star performers. He says Efotec School of Excellence has through PTA developed a strong relationship between teachers and parents. As a result the school’s performance has also greatly improved.

He says the school was one of the best in Kicukiro district despite introducing the association only a few years ago.

“Initially, Efotec did not have A’level but in one of our PTA meetings, we decided that our school introduces it and it was gladly done,” says Kalisa.

Musaasizi Ronald, a teacher at Essa Nyarugunga, says usually the associations are self-reliant and also a source of funds for the school. Apart from raising school fees, parents generate money through membership fees, some of which is then used to supplement teachers’ salaries, buy text books, produce teaching materials, and take care of emergencies.

In order to boost students’ wellbeing, according to Musaasizi, PTA focuses a lot on nutrition, health, school safety and physical fitness. He says involving parents in education affairs makes them appreciate the challenges facing the school and therefore become part of the solution.

Hurdles

Good teacher-parent associations can also have their disadvantages. In Uganda for instance, PTA was at one point done away with because it used to conflict with government regulations and policies, according to a ministry of education official in Uganda. The official argued that PTAs were bent on raising money for teachers yet majority of parents could not afford to pay the money demanded by these associations.

Nyarwaya, however, is aware that the road will not be smooth all the way.

“We know there are a lot of challenges but challenges are everywhere in our societies and therefore we shall work hard and address all the challenges that may hamper the progress of the policy,” he remarks.

Despite a few hurdles here and there, PTA should be embraced by all schools and parents that care about the needs of their children because it will help them perform excellently both academically, morally and spiritually. And when the school performs very well, its reputation also gets better. This leaves all stakeholders — school, parents and learners — satisfied and proud.

PTA: What the stakeholders think 

Jane Bugingo, a student

A good relationship between parents and teachers is good and can improve discipline among learners. Whenever students expect their parents to come to school, they tend to be well behaved because they can bargain for more pocket money. 

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John Rwema, a father of two

PTA helps the teachers raise more money to cater for their needs. This fairly comfortable life motivates them to be more efficient which is good for the students’ performance.

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Jacky Mutoni, a teacher

PTA is a sign of responsibility on the part of parents. It means that parents have a contribution towards the development of a school. It is a very welcome initiative.

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Richard Rugwe, a teacher

This policy is very good when it comes to motivating of teachers. With such an arrangement, a teacher is sure that at the end of the day he will be appreciated. 

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Joshua Gatete, a teacher at Essa Nyarugunga 

PTA is very important because it bridges the gap between teachers and parents. It also helps stakeholders facilitate good learning.

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