The effectiveness of parent teacher association (PTA) in the management of free primary education. a survey of three selected public schools in Mulobezi district, Western province, Zambia.

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Simasiku, Simasiku
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The University of Zambia
Despite the government effort such as the introduction of Free Primary Education (FPE) made in Zambia 2002, with a view to ensure community direct involvement and ownership of development projects in their locality in education, the extent of parent input in pupil achievement through PTA remains obscure in many primary schools. However, the government emphasizes that to ensure the effectiveness of FPE, community support for school community relationships, competence and professionalism, infrastructure and discipline of pupils are necessary. Indeed, the Ministry of Education stresses that community involvement and participation in form of contributions, such as advice, labour, financial resources and in kind are required to support the government‟s contributions. This paper presents the findings of a study conducted in Mulobezi District to investigate the effectiveness of PTA in the management of FPE. Data were collected from 3 Head teachers, 3 Deputy Head teachers, 3 senior teachers, 10 class teachers, 4 PTA members, 3 Guidance and Counselling teachers and 9 pupils. The study was guided by four research questions that investigated the following aspects: the activities of PTA in enhancing student‟s school community relationship, competence and professionalism, infrastructure matters and discipline, the extent to which PTA enhances its duties on the stipulated roles, the challenges facing PTA in students education management and suggestions on how the PTA could be more effective in enhancing its roles. The study employed both quantitative and qualitative research methodologies. The target population consisted of 3 public primary schools, head teachers, deputy head teachers, PTA members, class teachers, and pupils of the 3 public primary schools in Mulobezi District. The sample size consisted of 3 head teachers, 3 deputy head teachers, senior teachers, 3 Guidance and Counselling, 12 class teachers, 6 PTA members and 12 students. Data were collected by use of interview guides, questionnaires, and FGD, which were personally administered by the researcher. Quantitative data were analysed in tables while qualitative data were organized into themes and analysed descriptively. Conclusion and recommendations were made based on the findings. The study found that in spite of PTA doing many activities towards development of school facilities, very little was done on effective management of FPE. Most of the respondents reported that after the introduction of FPE many parents were not involved in school management affairs, such as discipline of pupils, cooperation with teachers on academic progress of children and other contributions the school needed. From the report, it was evident that most parents had misinterpreted the FPE policy. School management committees were generally regarded by head teachers as being much more supportive than PTA. However, SMC were found to be less active in involvement of PTA in handling disciplinary cases in schools, maintaining and mobilising parents in school programs. The study therefore recommended that the government should promote awareness between parents and the communities in general on their role in FPE through a sensitization campaign. To ensure that PTA members understood their roles and discharged them with commitment, the study recommends that PTA undergo management and leadership training.
Parents' and teachers' associations.