Parents and Teachers Association (PTA’s) in Uganda schools are an evolution of the post President Idi Amin administration. When the Uganda National Liberation Front (UNLF) overthrew Idi Amin in 1979, most schools were in a sorry state and given that there was no ready money from Government to help better the state of affairs, Government aided schools made individual appeals to the Ministry of Education to allow the parents to get involved in re – vitalizing the schools. It is on record that the journey was not smooth. At St. Mary’s College Kisubi in an attempt to block the administration from moving on with the innovation, the school came up with some threats to Government in case the innovation was not given chance, they were eventually cleared. It is true that from then on wards, Government aided schools took on the innovation of PTA’s. The PTA have been able to see to the smooth running of many schools where they are, and much of the innovations in these schools are a result of what PTA’s endorse, however, many parents are a victim of powerful parents who together with the head teacher come up with motions which are not flexible but parents have to accept them as long as they want their children to remain in these schools. There are instances where parents are not free to give their mind in these meetings with the fear that they could be noted and their children eventually victimized. It is true that many PTA’s actually lack democracy, what normally occurs is endorsing pre – determined positions by a powerful clique in schools.
The Government of Uganda through the Ministry of Education & Sports has allocated funds for consultancy services for reviewing the viability of Parents’ and Teachers’ Associations (PTA’s) with a possibility of revamping them and undertaking an inventory of voluntary community participation.
My input into this innovation is:
1) It is best to come up with a uniform constitution of PTA’s to be followed by all schools where they are;
2) The parents should have an avenue to the Ministry of Education where they refer their grievances more so that some PTA authorities are dictators who just want parents to be at the receiving end;
3) It would be great for members of the community to participate in PTA’s, however, at secondary level, it may be a bit hard, though at Primary level it is easier to encourage all the members of the community to have the feeling of concern for the better health of the school and hence get involved through community dialogue;
4) Community initiatives may not be easily incorporated into PTA arrangements because the PTA mobilizes immediate beneficiaries to the status quo of the school through the students/children taught and in most instances the meeting has budgets where all parents are expected to make an equal contribution be it in the putting up of a new building, the payment of teachers who are not on the Government pay roll, which includes the extra teachers schools incorporated to teach the 4th Principal at HSC which is uncalled for;
5) The PTA should get democratic the way they choose leadership so that all parents are given an opportunity to vote for the office bearers and these should be different from the School Board of Governors which is the case in some schools where some on the Board of Governors also feature on the PTA Board;
6) It is also important for the parents to be aware of the agenda in the forthcoming PTA meeting so that they are not just ambushed;
7) Government should be transparent so that the parents know exactly what the Government is shouldering and what they should help in. This is critical where Universal Secondary Education (USE) exists, as well as Universal Primary Education (UPE) Schools which have PTA arrangements. This is against the Presidents weight of UPE as a big contribution to these schools such that those parents who take the Presidents word end up uncooperative when the school administration asks for funds to see the school run in a satisfactory manner