JIS News

Parents play an integral role in the development of children. Not only do they provide care, support and discipline, but are also the major agents of socialization for their children.
With the role of the parents being so important, there are calls in Jamaica for them to become more involved in the education system, in terms of participating in decision-making plans of schools and to ensure that their children receive quality education. As such, a National Parent Teachers’ Association (NPTA) has been launched to assist this process.
The creation of NPTA is one of the recommendations of the National Task Force on Education, which conducted a thorough analysis of the education system. The role of the NPTA, the Task Force said, would be to “develop and disseminate a handbook for schools/PTAs (Parent Teachers Associations) in best practices to encourage parental involvement, establish parent teachers organizations and revitalize and promote November as parent month”.
The NPTA, which is governed by the Education Act of 1980, is committed to promoting the welfare of children and youth in the home, school, community and place of worship, and to secure adequate laws for the care and protection of children and youth.
The NPTA also seeks to raise the standard of home life; to bring into closer relation, the home and the school, so that parents and teachers may cooperate intelligently in the education of children and youth.
It will also develop between educators and the general public, such united efforts as will secure for all children and youth, the highest advantages in physical, mental, social, and spiritual education.
According to Sharon Wolfe, Communications Director of the Education Transformation Team, “the mandate of the NPTA seeks to strengthen and build on the partnerships between the school and the home. The National Parent Teachers Association is quite clear that the parental involvement is not as strong as it needs to be and so will be formulating strategies to ensure that, that increases.”
She tells JIS News that the body will be focusing on dormant or inactive PTAs by “attempting to partner with strong active PTAs in similar geographical locations to help to bring them up to par”.
“The National Parent Teachers’ Association will be looking at training dealing specifically with parental skills and giving parents strategies on how to become involved with their students’ academic life,” says Mrs. Wolfe.
The creation of the NPTA is intended to improve the performance of children, Mrs. Wolfe says, noting that research has shown that “increased parental involvement is one of the best indicators of academic success of students. Students did better when their parents are involved”.
According to Mrs. Wolfe, there is wide support for the association both at the ministerial and local levels. “There is going to be an advocacy group, and they are going to ensure that the education system is transformed. They are going to be able to speak on educational issues that concern the children,” she points out.
The NPTA will link with other parenting organizations so as to coordinate parenting workshops and advocate for the quality education of the children.
There are a variety of parenting organizations in Jamaica, and I am sure that they will most certainly want to work together, because we do not want to re-invent the wheel all the time,” she says, adding that the Coalition for Better Parenting will become a part of the association.
She informs that funding from the NPTA will come from dues paid by the various associations across the country. “There will be a mechanism where each PTA based on certain criteria, will be required to pay membership dues. As a registered entity and non governmental organization, which they are working towards very, very quickly, they will be able to access both local and international grant funds for specific programmes”, says Mrs. Wolfe.
She adds that the association is also hoping to work with businesses as she believes that “the benefits of such an organization will have an impact on the nation and the private sector also”.
Sylvester Anderson, President of the Meadowbrook PTA, who has been elected as the first President of the NPTA, tells JIS News that he hopes that the organization will be very effective within the education system.
“We are hoping to be very effective. we need to look at introducing ideas as to how we think the Ministry of Education will be better able to assist the parents,” says Mr. Anderson.
He says the hope is to improve the relationship between parents, teachers and students. His goal for the next school year is to establish PTA’s where there are no bodies and to improve on existing ones, to contribute to the welfare of schools and students.Dian Campbell is a parent and is very involved in the PTA of the previous school her daughter attended. She thinks that the creation of a NPTA is a good move by the Ministry of Education and Youth.
“By becoming a part of the NPTA, it allows you to get ideas and ways of making your PTA become more vibrant and exciting,” she tells JIS News. “I would also encourage parents to become a part of a PTA .it allows you to better deal with children and parent on a whole in the school environment,” she adds.
Miss Campbell says she believes that the association will be very effective in the educational system as it will allow parents to become more involved in their children lives, as teachers cannot do it alone. She tells JIS News that she hopes to start an active PTA at the school her daughter currently attends, as it would be beneficial to both parents and teachers. Roshane Miller, Public Relations Manager of the National Students Council of Jamaica, gives his full support to the NPTA. “I believe it is a step forward. It has long been coming and it is really, really needed if we are going to help the youth.”
Currently there are over 960 registered PTAs across the country. PTA or Home School Associations from all pre-primary to high school at public and independent educational institutions islandwide, are eligible for membership within the NPTA.