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UNIVERSITY OF BOTSWANA A STUDY ON THE ROLE OF PARENTS' TEACHERS' ASSOCIATIONS IN PRIMARY SCHOOLS: THE CASE OF THE SOUTHERN PART OF BOTSWANA A RESEARCH PROJECT PRESENTED TO THE FACULTY OF EDUCATION IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF THE REQUIREMENT FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF EDUCATION By MALEBOGO MMANNANA GAOBEPE AUGUST 2003 This project has been examined and is approved as meeting the required standard of scholarship for the fulfilment for partial fulfilment for the degree of Master of Education. Supervisor Internal Examiner Director of Graduate Studies in Education External Examiner Date STATEMENT OF ORIGINALITY This work contained in this supervised Research Project was completed at the University of Botswana between January and August It is original work except where due reference is made and neither has been or will be submitted for award of any other university. Student s signature Date ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS I would like to thank all those who assisted me in doing my research project. My first gratitude to Dr F Moorad, my supervisor who patiently supervised my research project and who was always there for me when I sought his assistance. I would also like to thank my two-committee members Mr O Pansiri and Mr C Vista who also made comments on my research project, which were very helpful. My thanks also go to the acting PEO I (South Region), Mr Mokwena for allowing me to use some of the schools in his region. My thanks also go to PEO IIs for Lobatse and Southern South Inspectoral Areas, Mr Mathumo and Ms Mokwena respectively for using some of their schools. I would also like to thank all the head teachers and teachers of Segopotso and Forest Hill Primary Schools in Kanye; Ipeleng and Crescent Primary Schools in Lobatse, as well as Saint Martin s and Metlojane Primary Schools in the Barolong area. Sincere gratitude goes to the two head teachers of Metlojane and Saint Martin s Primary Schools Mrs M Mogaetsho and Mr D Ramagang respectively who assisted me with transport, as it is a problem in the area. If it was not for the above mentioned my study would have been a nightmare. Le ka moso bagaetsho! ABSTRACT The study looked at the roles performed by Parents Teachers Associations in primary schools in Botswana. It has been observed that some PTA members in most cases feel obliged to work tirelessly for the organisations because of the thought of improving schools for the education of their children. There had also been an observation that some of the parents just dump their children at the schools and seem to have little or no interest to participate in PTA activities. Some parents seem not to be interested because they did not know exactly what was expected of them and this has led to some PTA members performing well while others were not. The study was mainly based on a mixed method design involving both quantitative and qualitative data as the two paradigms supplemented each other. For the quantitative approach the survey questionnaire was used while for the qualitative approach the semi-structured interview was used. Most of the data collection was done through questionnaires. The respondents were made up of head teachers, parents and teachers of both government and private primary schools in the southern part of the country. It is evident from the study that PTAs play a very important part in the running of both government and private schools especially when they are given the mandate to participate. The study also revealed that there are some problems that PTAs are facing such as lack of guidelines on how to run the organisations and that some parents are far away from the schools and this prevents them to be more involved. On the basis of the findings, it is recommended that guidelines on the roles of the PTAs be developed because it is evident that at present they depend on the Primary School Management Manual, which is not easily accessible to the PTAs. Another major recommendation of the study is that a forum for PTAs be established at district and national levels to encourage the sharing of ideas. DEDICATION The study is dedicated to my mother, Mrs Tebogo Gaobepe who was always there for me and provided me with financial assistance. Even though not in good health she looked after the two girls, Atlang and Kao who were also my inspiration. Lastly to my nephews and nieces and my sisters Gadiitsiwe and especially Tuduetso Tolo, the eldest, though in South Africa, always called to check how I was doing. CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION 1.0 INTRODUCTION Education is a collaborative activity between parents and teachers and other government officials. Parents are encouraged to be partners in the provision and delivery of education and Parents Teachers Associations (PTAs) have been put in place to enhance the partnership. Historically, in Britain parents were not included in decision-making matters relating to education but this changed due to the realization that schools were being deprived of powerful and dynamic resources of the communities (Gold, 2000: 71). Most countries of the world encourage partnerships in education whereby governments and respective communities come together in the running of schools through Boards of Governors (BOGs) and or PTAs and this is the case with Botswana too. Parents show a lot of interest in the aforementioned governing bodies by attending meetings for the sake of their children s education but they seem not to understand what to do exactly. Worldwide, parents willingly become PTA members because they feel their children s education is also their responsibility. In Botswana too, parents also feel that they have to belong to these organizations and this is the case in the southern part of the country where the researcher comes from. For any PTA to function smoothly, one would expect some form of orientation as well as clearly stipulated rules and regulations. Unfortunately, as this study sets out to show, there are no clear guidelines nor is there any form of orientation that is provided for new PTA members. In Botswana some PTA roles are outlined in the Primary School Management Manual but whether the administrative staff shares such information with PTAs is questionable. Currently, the PTA depends on the school head for the roles that they have to perform and most of them seem to be operating on a wave of uncertainties. The study seeks to argue the importance of information dissemination and orientation that should be provided for the empowerment of PTAs. 1.1 BACKGROUND TO THE PROBLEM Throughout the world there is a call to parents for their active involvement in the running of schools through PTAs. Unfortunately, books available on management are of little assistance to PTAs (Macbeth, 1989: 106). It is also evident that the material on PTAs in Botswana is not of much use because it does not concentrate on the PTA roles. This therefore, makes it difficult for PTAs to be efficient or to work within given parameters. One will expect to find a lot of variations, problems and limitations. The study is going to look at: How PTAs function in general Factors that affect the level of involvement in PTAs Factors that contribute to effective PTAs Parents were not involved in the running of schools in the United Kingdom before the 1960s and this changed after the Plowden Report in 1967, which was the first official recommendation on parental involvement (Lomax, 1990:82 & Sullivan, 1991: 100). The recommendation advocated for parents to be drawn into the school so as to be aware of what their children were doing at school. The report encouraged the head teacher together with teachers to create a conducive environment for parents to contribute to their children s education. It is believed that parents involvement in their children s education produces better performance (Lomax, 1990: 82 & Sullivan, 1991:100). In Botswana parental involvement is encouraged at all the different levels of the educational structure. At the lowest level of the structure are the preschools, which are all run privately by individuals or non-governmental organizations. The pre-schools are followed by primary schools, which comprise of private/ english medium schools and Government/ Council/ setswana medium schools. The duration for primary instruction for children at this level is 7 years. This is then followed by 3 years in junior secondary schools, which are either private or government aided. Senior secondary education lasts 2 years and afterwards children go to different institutions for their tertiary education. However, some schools especially private schools are integrated or unified, as the Ministry of Education (MoE) prefers to call them. After 5 years of combined junior and secondary school education they also go for tertiary education. Some secondary schools are private while others are government owned. At all the levels of education, parents are encouraged to be members of PTAs and to participate in activities for school improvement (Ministry of Education 1993). At the primary school level PTAs are engaged in a lot of activities for school improvement, as most governments do not adequately finance primary schools but this is not the case at the secondary level, which enjoys better financing (Perez, 1999: 55). In private schools, PTAs work hard for the development of the schools because they are not assisted in any way by the government. Even though most primary schools in Botswana are called government schools, they are really under the control of the local government. This has been so for quite some time after the Sargant Report of Sargant recommended that primary schools should be placed under the local authority instead of the central government. Sargant recommended this because he realized that communities could be used to raise more funds for school development, if they were actively involved (Coles, 1985: 9). The Government of Botswana has long realized that involvement of parents in their children s education is very important as the first Education Commission of 1977 emphasized the importance of parental involvement (Ministry of Education, 1977). The commission further encouraged parents to participate in PTA activities by provision of labour and finance for the physical upkeep and maintenance' of the schools (Education for Kagisano, 1977: 56). Involvement of parents in school activities through PTAs is a challenging task for school managers, because parents do not seem to be interested in these organizations. This is probably due to the fact that parents have not been fully involved in their children s education and they are not aware of how valuable PTAs are. PTA activities in schools have been looked upon as teacher-run ones because they feel that at meetings they are only told what to do by teachers. Parents were not given opportunities to say what they wanted (Mcloughlin, 1987:45). The running of PTAs is now in the hands of parents but still many do not feel obliged to participate because they are not convinced of the benefits of being members. This is supported by O Donoghve et al (1998: 18) who note that: Throughout much o f the world public education traditionally has been the preserve o f bureaucracies which have left little room for non-professional participation in shaping education policy and practice. Parental involvement where it has existed has been limited. Worldwide, parental involvement was not seen as a necessity in their children s education because it was believed that the educators could do the job well without parents. In some instances where parents were involved it was only at a minimum level but there is a belief that parents who are active in the education of their children produce long benefits for the society, as they also feel obliged to participate in their communities ( In Botswana, parental involvement is not a new development just as it is the case with other countries. After the British acted on the Plowden Report which emphasized parental involvement in the education system this was also passed to Botswana which was a British protectorate and as one of the beneficiaries of the British education system. Parental involvement in the mami lament of education is highly encouraged through Boards of Governors (BOGs), PTAs and other organizations, which are taken as partners in the running of schools (RNPE, 1994: 11). Generally schools make it a point that parents are involved through PTAs but usually it seems some of the parents do not exactly know what they have to do in the PTAs. This study therefore seeks to examine parental involvement with a particular emphasis on PTAs in primary schools in the southern part of Botswana. 1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM Although there is a call for stronger parental involvement, it seems their roles in Botswana primary schools are not clearly spelt out. Some parents seem to be well aware of what they are expected to do in PTAs while others do not have a clear direction. At present PTAs depend entirely on the head teacher whose source of information is the Primary School Management Manual to which PTAs have no access. Some PTAs are successfully running their organizations while others are failing. Unfortunately, little data if any exists on what factors contribute to effective PTAs. Too much dependence on the head teacher on what has to be done can easil lead to the manipulation of the organization members by the head teacher. This in the end usually results in parents losing interest because of the feeling that they do not own decisions taken and this leads to mismanagement of PTAs. The purpose of the study is to find out if there are any guidelines on PTAs that exist or if every school has to follow its own set of guidelines. A study of this nature is very important because it would guide PTAs with what to do to make their schools more effective. 1.3 RESEARCH QUESTIONS The research questions are as follows: 1. What are the head teachers, parents' and teachers views on the role of PTAs in schools? 2. Are there any guidelines to assist PTAs and parents in particular to do their work more effectively? 3. What factors contribute to active PTA involvement? 4. What factors contribute to lack of PTA involvement? 5. What activities are PTAs involved in? 1.4 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY It is important to undertake this study because it would help school administrators, teachers, parents as well as other stakeholders in the educational system on how PTAs have to be run. It would make it easier for parents to be sure of what is expected of them. The researcher has so far not come across any local study on the roles of PTAs in primary schools, so this study will be helpful in providing lots of relevant background information on PTAs in Botswana. A study of this nature should help the Ministry of Education in developing guidelines for PTAs. All stakeholders should be clear on what their roles are to avoid complacency and confusion but also to encourage better effectiveness in their contribution. 1.5 LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY There is not enough literature on Parents Teachers Associations, so it is not easy to get relevant information. There is only one study, which has been done on PTAs in Botswana on community junior secondary schools by Toteng (1999), but none has been done on the roles of PTAs in primary schools in Botswana. Due to lack of funds and time the study will cover only six (6) schools in the southern part of the country. Lack of literature especially on the roles of PTAs in Botswana is a major limitation of the study. The findings of the study need to be read and understood in the light f the main limitation of the study. CHAPTER 2 LITERATURE REVIEW 2.1 INTRODUCTION The literature review has been divided into sub-topics namely: The Role of Parents Teachers Associations in Schools; Factors that Contribute to Active Participation of PTA Involvement; Factors that Contribute to Lack of PTA involvement; Activities of Parents Teachers Associations and Accessibility of PTA Guidelines to PTA Members. At the end of chapter, the main points raised in the literature will be highlighted in relation to the research objectives of the studv. 2.2 ROLES OF PTAs IN SCHOOLS Parents Teachers Associations play a very important role in the running of schools because they are part of school governance. School governance is of great importance because it allows all stakeholders to be fully involved in schools thus benefiting the whole educational system. All primary schools in Botswana are required to have governing bodies, especially PTAs management teams are encouraged to establish one if it does not exist in that particular school (Ministry of Education, 2000: 80). Senior secondary schools have PTAs; junior secondary schools have both PTAs and BOGs; and primary schools have PTAs while most private schools also have governing boards. Governing bodies have to be in all schools and their presence should be felt through their provision of material and moral support and other forms of assistance. The school can benefit from all the stakeholders who should be committed to their respective schools (Kogan et al, 1984: 29). School governance has to done in a team-like manner, whereby those involved should try to work harmoniously together without manipulation of others unnecessarily. It is about selling ideas to some and buying ideas from others that one finds out which of these would benefit their organization and not that particular individual or a few individuals (Pughs in Lumby and Fosket, 1999: 113). PTAs are governing bodies in schools and this makes it possible for all the stakeholders concerned to improve education by assisting that particular school with what they can manage or afford. Parents Teachers Associations are a group of parents of students or pupils attending school and teachers of the concerned schools. Macbeth (1989: 113) says: A PTA is a group of people who recognize that the education o f a child is a process ofpartnership between parents and teachers and who wish to take a joint action to improve the quality o f the partnership. The PTA is the starting point and central link o f developing the school and the community. Parents-teacher partnerships help children to get maximum benefit from their schooling because parents and teachers work together towards the education of their children unlike the case whereby children are left in the hands of teachers alone. PTAs make it possible for parents to be involved in the education of their children not leaving everything to the teachers but the two groups have to work harmoniously together. There is a lot of emphasis on partnership when it comes to school management, so this means that all stakeholders of a particular school should work cooperatively together for the well being of that school. Pughs in Lumby and Foskett (1999: 113) defines partnership as:... a working relationship that is characterized by a sense o f purpose, mutual respect and the willingness to negotiate. This implies sharing information, responsibility, skills, decisionmaking and accountability. Partnership is whereby those involved should have focus on why they exist and exactly what they have to do. They should also work harmoniously together and they should all be accountable of what is happening in the group and to avoid disassociating themselves from the group if things are not going well. Those involved in the partnership should be free to air their views and should not fear to be ill treated by other members because as a group it would not be natural to have no differences. Most importantly, a PTA should comprise more parents than teachers to indicate that they play an important role in their children s concerns (Petso, undated: 12). PTAs play a very important role in running of primary schools to the extent that our primary schools would be less exciting without PTAs. PTAs perform some roles, which a
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