JIS News

President of the newly formed National Parent Teachers’ Association of Jamaica (NFTAJ), Sylvester Anderson, is encouraging parents to get more involved in the daily operations of schools.
He said that while parents have a duty to ensure that their children attend school, they must also play an integral role in what is happening in the schools, through membership and participation in the Parent Teachers’ Associations (PTA).
“Parents need to take a critical look and have a say on matters such as: ‘Is the school adhering to the guidelines stipulated by the Ministry of Education and Youth for the curriculum’ or ‘How is the school administration operating?’ ‘Are the teachers performing?'” he reasoned.
“The parents,” he noted, “are really going to be the key element in all of this. We think that if they are actually involved in the PTA, then they should be able to make a valuable contribution”.
Meanwhile, Mr. Anderson told JIS News that the public has been responding positively to the NFTAJ. “The response has been overwhelming based on the number of people, who did not know that such an organization existed and those who actually heard of the organization and thought that this is something that was needed,” he stated.
According to Mr. Anderson, the primarily focus of the organization was on increasing the number of participating PTAs, while providing training for parents.
He said that because the Association was launched at the end of the last school year, only 130 PTAs were able to attend, but with the island having more than 1,000 schools, “there is a lot to do in terms of getting our numbers up”.
“Where there is not an active PTA,” Mr. Anderson told JIS News, “we are going to establish one in that particular school. Where the PTA has fallen down and become dormant, we are going to reactivate it and for those who are active, we are going to see what additional support we can give so as to strengthen their activities.”
With regard to training for parents, he said, “we are looking at training as a key component of what we want to get out, as our mandate clearly speaks to that. It is our intention to train parents in various areas in the social skills. Gone are the days when we would depend on our grandparents or some senior member in our family to teach those things”.
“We are now hoping that based on the fact that our parents are actually getting younger,” he continued, “that we will be able to, at some point in time, have a seminar/training session from which they will be able to garner some knowledge. Also, parents have expressed an interest in training that will assist them in improving their financial well-being”.
Turning to back-to-school preparations, Mr. Anderson noted that, “there is a lot more information being shared, for instance, if you look at the Consumer Affairs Commission findings, they have said that evidence suggests that there is no price gouging. We expect parents to take advantage of their website and look to see where they can get the best bargains. As it relates to school uniforms and other general supplies, findings also suggest that there is no excessive pricing,” he asserted.
The National Parent Teachers’ Association was established in July following recommendations made by the Task Force on Education, which was appointed to review and conduct a thorough analysis of the education system in Jamaica and make recommendations that are “consistent with a vision for the creation of a world class education system”.
As part of its responsibilities, the NPTA should develop and disseminate a handbook for schools/PTAs outlining best practices to encourage parental involvement; to establish parent teachers’ organizations and to revitalize and promote November as Parents Month. The handbook has already been published.
Research has shown that the most accurate predictor of student achievement is the extent to which the family is involved in the child’s education and it is more crucial to a child’s intellectual development and academic success than believed even a few years ago.
In addition to encouraging parental involvement, a national PTA is also fundamental to strengthening strategic partnerships among parents, the community and the school environment and structuring the parental support and involvement in school life at the national level.