PARENT TEACHER ASSOCIATION (PTA) AS INSTRUMENT OF SCHOOL MANAGEMENT
While proprietors of private primary schools are well known individuals or groups, it is not so with the public primary schools, the lower base of the basic education sub-sector.
Private primary schools are initiated, established and funded by their proprietors, but public schools to a great extent are initiative of community people established based on the educational need of their people.
People of various communities in the past came together and mobilized themselves to establish schools within their area to curb the educational demand of their growing infants.
The human and material resources needed to start up primary schools in those areas were generated by the community people for their own interest. The community people continue to oversee the day to day administration of the schools till such a time they are able to secure approval from the government.
Most times, when these approvals are gotten and government took over the funding and management of the school, the community became care free about the progress of the school, they compromise their co-ownership, leaving all to the whims and caprice of government. This community negligence of her role in the administration and management of public primary schools has led to public schools being addressed as “government schools” and treated with disdain as the “sole property liability of government” and not the people.
To address and correct this erroneous impression, government initiated Parents, Teachers Association (PTA) to stem the tide and restore sense of belonging to both parties.
PTA was an effort to re-awaken the consciousness of the community people and re-engaged them in the administration and management of schools in their area and so re-enforce the concept of “public”.
Along the line, by time or chance, the teachers, led by the headmasters, representing the government on one hand, felt that community people, led by PTA chairman on the one hand, were encroaching too much on the affair of the schools and began to arrogate more power to themselves to exclude their second partner. Community participation in management of public primary school were perceived by head teachers as threat to their power and all effort were put in place to wall them off.
As time came and passed and the word “public” continued to suffer defeat in operation of public primary schools, it became difficult for government alone to sustain the cost of running all the public schools with their attendant challenges, and as well approve the establishment of new ones in the needed areas.
Government thought it obvious to seek for alternative approach to implement its policies in the sub-sector and fund School Development Plans (SDP’s) and turn to search for assistance from international acclaimed Educational Agencies such as UNESCO and UNICEF.
The Federal Government through Federal Ministry of Education draw the attention of UNESCO through Universal Basic Education, UBE Intervention Scheme. The federal government created Universal Basic Education Commission, Abuja to oversee the implementation of agreement on intervention to challenges confronting the basic education in Nigeria. And the partnership is stepped down to state government level through state UBEBs.
UNICEF on the other hand, sold the initiative of School Based Management Committee, (SBMC) to federal government to revive and activate government and people collaboration in accelerating the development of Basic Education Industry and re-enforce the idea of “public” in the operation of the system.
SBMC was supposed to be a technical arm of PTA in charge of mobilization of human and material resources within the school environment, community level to arrest infrastructural and managerial emergencies in the school setting. It is a kind of in-house rapid response team for controlling the possible damages in public primary school environment.
SBMC consists of 25 members drawn from Community Based Organizations, CBOs; Clergymen; Faith Based Organizations, FBOs; Women Organizations, youth organizations, men organizations, development union representative, artisans, retailers etc.
The committee was to be headed by a community member, while the school head teacher becomes the secretary. The committee was to work under the superintendence of the PTA, which is the Parent body and report to her on any challenges encountered in the day to day administration and management of the school, for further policies strategy.
Unfortunately, SBMC is operating ultra-vires with the PTA in some schools, and has subsumed PTA in others, yet relies on PTA levies for execution of her most projects leading to role confusion in the setting.
Chukwu Arinze Mcknew