PTAs And School Management

Opinion

By Olalekan Olagunju

Education has been viewed by many people from different perspectives. According to legendary South African former President, Nelson Mandela, “education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world”. To famous Greek Philosopher, Aristotle,  “the roots of education are bitter, but the fruit is sweet”. As far as the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo was concerned, “to educate the children and enlighten the illiterate adults is to lay a solid foundation not only for future social and economic progress but also for evolvement of a solid political culture”. In the words of leading English art critic of the Victorian era, John Ruskin, “Education is the leading of human soul to what is best, and making the best of them”.

 Education is a prime legacy for posterity in societies that accept acquisition and utilization of knowledge as a means of survival and national development. There are various concepts of education. Oxford Learners Dictionary describes education as a systematic training and instruction or act of giving intellectual and moral training to another person. In a nut shell, education is a pivot or hub on which human growth and national advancement revolves. In most countries, it is the society that sets agenda for the direction of education.   In Nigeria, the education sector has several stakeholders that play prominent role in shaping education in the country. One prominent education stakeholder in the country is the Parent Teacher Association, PTA. The PTA is a formal organization made up of parents, teachers and non-teaching staff who come together purposely to facilitate parental participation in schools. PTAs are organized in developed and developing countries as backups or support base for school management.

The Federal Ministry of Education, as it is the case in many countries, encourages PTA to operate as a matter of policy. The objective, as earlier stated, is to encourage the participation of parents in the administration of schools. Before and shortly after independence, Nigeria’s schools were amply funded while available physical facilities and materials were sufficient for staff and students. Consequently, the role of PTA was limited in the affairs of  schools around this time. However, owing to the numerous challenges in the nation’s education sector, population explosion and economic recession, involvement of PTAs in the management of schools became a necessity. PTAs now assist in the provision of infrastructure and other needed materials at schools. As it is now, PTAs have become a major stakeholder in the education sector.

A vibrant and impactful PTA’s major goal is the all round development of the child. This is done through the engagement and empowering of families and communities to advocate for all children collaboration. PTA encourages closer links between home and school. If well coordinated and properly organised, PTAs are best known for their fund-raising activity for schools. They raise money through various social events; such as, Christmas fair, quiz competition and debate competitions, organizing cultural and talent shows, art and craft exhibitions among numerous others. Indeed, some creative PTAs have changed the face of many schools through so many intervention schemes. In some schools, PTAs have donated school busses, classroom blocks, sports facilities, text books among other vital necessities for the use of the pupils/students.

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Broadly speaking, the roles of PTAs in schools can be grouped as advisory, disciplinary, financial, interactive and complementary, supervisory. Though the roles vary from school to school, in general terms, the aforementioned remain core roles that PTAs perform across the country. In some private schools, tuition fees cannot be upwardly reviewed without the active involvement of the PTA. Ditto for other vital issues.

The way things are now, provision of education cannot really be left in the hands of government alone for obvious reasons. Consequently, well meaning individuals and corporate organizations should be ready to give back to the schools and the community as a whole. Management of schools should not be completely left in the hands of principals and teachers. More than other stakeholders, parents remain, perhaps, the most crucial factors in the advancement of education. Therefore,  stakeholders in the education sector should encourage the evolvement and development of PTAs across the country. They should be encouraged to explore Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) for various education support programmes and needs, such as, provision of laboratories (computer, physics, chemistry and biology), art room, home economics room/equipment, play grounds and sport facilities, generating sets and provision of well stocked libraries among others.

It is, however, important for teachers and students to make proper  use of facilities provided by PTAs in order to encourage them to do more. Based on the New Secondary School Curriculum, every child is expected to learn a trade. PTA could be in a better position to prevail on companies in various sectors such as, automobile, Information Communication Technology (ICT), agriculture, manufacturing and engineering to collaborate with schools in order to equip students with practical skills towards self reliance or self employment. In view of current economic realities in our nation, governments at all levels should endeavour to place top priority on promotion of entrepreneurship, technical/vocational education and science education. For this to become a reality, PTAs must be well positioned to assist in any way they could so that the wheel of education in the country could move progressively.

In order to ensure that past and current gains are properly consolidated, PTAs should become better prepared to be active and committed to promoting and sustaining quality education  at all levels in the country. As it has been previously stated, education is too crucial to be left in the hands of a few people, hence other stakeholders must come on board to move the sector forward in the country. This is the only way that the various investments in the sector could be sustained.

 •Olagunju is of the Ministry of Information & Strategy, Alausa, Ikeja.