The Importance of a Parents/Teachers Association (PTA) in Cameroonian Educational Systems.
February 7, 2013 § 1 Comment
The parents/teacher association is a body comprising of parents and teachers of an institution of learning who meet annually to discuss matters on the educational, moral and spiritual well-being of the students or pupils of a particular learning institution, either at the elementary or secondary school level.
This body is basically made up of two arms; the Executive and the General Assembly. The general assembly meets once a year, while the executive meets as often as the need arises.
Every child begins life within a particular family. The child is raised and taught some fundamental principles in life, such as what is right and what is wrong, the kind of behaviour that society approves of and those which society regards as anti social. Thus children begin life in a home environment learning and being exposed to life principles. Gradually, as the child grows older it becomes an imperative for the child to meet persons in a different environment where formal education takes place.
This new environment is the school. At the beginning children have difficulties coping and accepting this “strange” place but they gradually begin to become accustomed to it. What is very important to note here is that discipline and learning which was initially and exclusively the responsibility of the parents, must now be shared between parents and teachers. The child begins to learn a lot of things and very new things, new ways of doing things and so forth.
Besides the teachers who have become a new phenomenon in the child’s life, other pupils or students play a role in the life of the child because of constant interaction and communication. This phenomenon sometimes brings confusing in the mind of the child. It is however a very important process because it is the only means by which a child can acquire formal education and training and gain financial independence in future. Teachers become the watch dogs and the regulators of the new way of life, helping the child to adapt to everything seemingly new for the child.
But because the parents still play an important role in the life of the child, it becomes necessary and important to group the two main actors at this stage of the child’s life to work together in raising a complete human person. The idea of a PARENTS/TEACHERS ASSOCIATION came to be borne out of the necessity to avoid conflicting methods and approaches in raising the child. Suffice it to note that this is a purely ENGLISH SPEAKING TRADITION, in all institutions of learning be it private or public, you will not find one single school in the NW nor SW Regions of Cameroon without a body or association named a PARENTS/TEACHER ASSOCIATION. They have contributed immensely in the educational, material and moral well-being of the children.
SHARING IN UPBRINGING:
From the very moment that a child begins school, his or her life is no more influenced by the home environment, but also by the new environment which is the school. Parents are the primary actors in the life of the child and the teachers are secondary actors. Both are participating in the upbringing of the child in different ways and as a result it becomes very important to establish a common forum for both parents and teachers to come together to discuss issues pertaining to the welfare of the children.
While the children are in school the teachers are acting in loco parentis, especially in the area of discipline, and therefore the necessity for both parties to meet annually to exchange notes and form a common ground of action in the best interest of their children.
ACADEMIC WORK AND PERFORMANCE:
Teachers are more involved in the academic work of the children and must see to their academic growth, strength and soundness. Parents are more or less active in this area. It becomes imperative therefore for parents and teacher to meet and discuss the academic development and performance of the children so as to enable the parents to participate by allowing them through discussions to appreciate the standard of learning imparted to the children, be able to understand the difficulties which some children face. Parents are able to the see the importance of following up their children at home because they know the particular difficulties which their children are encountering at school.
Thus in a forum of this nature there is bound to be an entente between the parents and the teachers which go a long way to help the children and take away unnecessary blames and accusation which sometimes, bring gross misunderstanding between parents and teachers with regrettable consequences. Meetings like this have the advantage of a very frank and open discussion which leads to resolutions being taken in the interest of all concerned and as a result avoid unpleasant situations.
STANDARDS AND VALUES:
Every educational institution has its own set of values by which the standards of that institution are assessed. It is not sufficient for the school to send to parents, a list of school rules to which the children are to be subjected. It is most important for parents to understand the essence of those rules and regulations. Such understanding can only be derived in a forum of the Parents/teachers meeting. Parents need to understand the rules and regulation so as to encourage their kids to abide by them and as such learn their support to the institution to keep the standards and values in the interest of the kids. Where this is not possible, parents become disgruntled and critical of a system which is rather beneficial to their kids. ( e g owning mobile phones or other electronic gadgets in school, assorted clothes in school, extra food in school etc).
For the standards and values to be maintained parents must contribute their own measure through understanding and participating in maintain those standards.
MORAL ATTITUDE AND BEHAVIOUR:
The school environment is far different from the home. It is place where we see a conglomeration of all types of attitudes and behaviour. There is no gainsaying that parents have different approaches in raising and disciplining their kids. Here we dare say that there are two types of parents the “no nonsense” parents and the seemingly “I don’t care parents.” Before coming to an institution like Holy Cross, most children have spent at least the first eleven years of their lives with their parents and under their discipline. Mindful of the fact that, parents have different approaches in the disciplining of their kids, teachers are faced with children of varying types of behaviour, albeit positive and negative.
It is incumbent on the teachers to help children whose behaviour and attitude leaves much to be desired. At this stage of their growth kids suffer from peer influence and will readily copy what their friends do without giving a thought to the correctness of what they are copying.
Such problems are well addressed in PTA meetings so as to keep the parents aware and so enable them to be vigilant with their kids while they are on holidays. Some kids exhibit tendencies which their parents are not aware of and these are brought to the notices of the parents when parents and teachers meet under the umbrella of a PTA meeting. The fact of having parents assemble as we are doing today is very important because parents also have the opportunity to discuss first hand with teachers on individual and private basis. Parents become aware of certain negative attitudes of their kids known only by the teachers, and this helps the parents to work in correcting such attitudes while the kids are on holidays.
SHARING OF IDEAS:
From the above expose, we realize that the PTA meeting is very important as a forum for sharing ideas all geared towards helping our children develop both academic and moral strength and integrity. As parents we want the best for our kids and we want to know and understand the environment in which they learn, the comfort of the environment the facilities made available to achieve a holistic education.
It is a well known and established fact that school environment and regulations have been improved and made more conducive for learning over the years through a great deal of participation and contribution of ideas from parents.
Parents and teachers have worked together to improve on the living standards of the children, by providing structural facilities, such as good water supply, sports facilities, medical facilities, etc, which have contributed a great deal in enhancing the living standards of the children, as well as their condition of health, etc.
The more comfortable our children are in schools, the less worrisome we shall be as parents and as the old saying goes more heads are better than one, a PTA is very essential to cater for the needs of our kids to help them perform excellently both academically, morally and spiritually. The PTA is therefore essential to achieve these goals.
Author – Maureen Lebong Morfaw.
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