It is a general saying that the first point of contact a child has is with family in a home. Objectively, one might not want to conclude that every child indeed comes from a home, but to fulfill the purpose of this write up, I would work with the assumption that every child does come from a home. That brings me to ask, what exactly is a home? Who and who make up a home? How does a home contribute to the development of a child?
According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a home is a familiar or usual setting: congenial environment, and also the focus of one’s domestic attention. Going by this definition, one can assume that a home is a place where one can find familiar people, and as such is a place where one could derive joy from staying in. We can also deduce that a home is a place where one could find support and acceptance away from the wider world. These are all assumptions though, working with the definition of a home. A home should ideally consist of a Father, Mother, and Children and in extreme cases, members of the extended family. Now the idea behind a home is to create a sense of belonging. Personally I feel a properly run home would provide a solid foundation for any child (assuming the child is open to instruction and learning).
Now to address the topic of this write up, I would like to point out that my otherwise long and seemingly unimportant allusion to the concept of a home has a lot to do with the Parent Teacher Association. The Parent Teacher Association (PTA) generally refers to an association or body for parents, guardians, teachers and management of a school for the welfare of the pupil/students, school and the community. Therefore, one would assume that for every child who would go to school, he/she ought to belong to home, run by parents, (whether single or couple), and as such, the home is very important in the scheme of things involving the PTA.
While growing up, right from the primary school level, my parents took part in the meetings organized by my school’s PTA. As a student of Our Lady of Apostles Primary School Yaba, one of the most dreaded events hosted under the aegis of the PTA at the time was “Open Day”. On Open Day, parents were invited to their ward’s class(s), given a seat right in front of the class, and handed all the school work done by the ward to peruse through. I remember there was one Open Day when my mother was the one who came for me; I had not completed my integrated science note from the previous week (my bad!), when she got to that note she just glanced at me, and continued going through my notes. I was in primary 4 at the time. The beating I got at home that day was second to none…….. However from that day onward, I made sure that I did my best to complete my notes; just in case I forget that my mom might be the one to attend open day. This little reverie serves to point out the importance of the PTA at even from the early level of a child’s education. It is no news that most parents are always busy, as most of them are working hard to put food on the table as well as provide money for school fees. Such events as the Open Day by the PTA provides the otherwise busy parent with the “timeout” from work to actually take a look at what their wards do in school.
The Parent-Teacher Association is an important group that should be taken seriously in our schools today. Through the PTA, a parent has a ‘meeting point’ with the secondary parents of his/her ward. By secondary parent, I mean the teachers who teach them at school. Most children who have had a troubled upbringing develop strong bonds with their teachers, and as such fashion their lives according to the influence of their teachers. Personally, I believe a parent should not leave the bulk of the education of a child to the teacher; and I believe this is one of the reasons why the PTA exists. According to an article I found on http://www.news2onlinenigeria.com, one of the aims of the PTA among others is to foster mutual understanding, harmonious relationship and cooperation among parents, guardians and teachers who are major stake holders in the education of the child. Furthermore as I had earlier mentioned, it also aims to enable the teachers and school management have a greater insight into the home background of their pupils and students thus leading to a better appreciation of the peculiarities of children individually.
Now, I ask myself, how many schools in Nigeria keep up with the aims of the PTA? Or better yet, how many schools have functioning PTA(s)? From the little time I spent as a teacher while observing my one year youth service, I could help but notice that the PTA in the school where I served only existed in name and not much for the interest of the students. In fact, the only time I ever heard of the PTA was whenever the school had asked students to pay one levy or the other, then you have parents who would storm the school to demand why their wards were being asked to pay such levies. Not once was there any activity to foster the interest of the parents in the academic activities of their wards.
I have a younger brother who is in SS.2 at the moment, in his own case I have not even heard of my parents being informed of any PTA meeting is always customarily done during the time when I was in school. It is even more disturbing because his school is a private school, here in Lagos! The trend I have noticed these days is that PTA meetings are mostly only convened when there is need to inform parents about a hike in the school fees of their ward, or when a child has been involved in one misconduct or the other, (even at that most students “hire” parents in such instances). So my question is how relevant is the Parent-Teacher Association to the academic development of the student? What can be done to make more parents interested in the academic activities of their wards? Let us not forget, the education of children is more beneficial to the parent than even the teacher in most cases.
In my opinion, for the PTA to become much more relevant than it is in the educational sector of Nigeria today, more parents should take interest in the activities of their wards. From the Primary level, to the Secondary level, parents should take part in activities organized by schools to create a meeting ground for parents and the teachers of their wards. Such events as inter-house competitions, Open day visits, school recitals (where they have such), provide the parent with a less formal atmosphere to discuss the academic growth of their child. Parents should not leave all the work to the teachers! In the case of the public schools, it is sad that most parents just send their kids to school, pay levies and fees, but pay no attention to the lives of their kids in school. It is sad that most students of the public schools in the country have become breeding grounds for manner less children, who in the worst cases become cultists and terrorize their teachers right from the secondary school!. I was speaking to a cousin of mine the other day who was a pupil of one of the model colleges in Lagos; she told me enough tales of students beating up their teachers, some even in the school compound!. At this point, I would bring us back to my earlier discussion about the importance of coming from a home. What child from a well-structured and run home would go as far as beating up his/her teacher? In addition, if the parents of such a student participated fully in PTA activities, would the child not be put in check, and as such not become a source of headache to the school in which he/she is enrolled?
In conclusion therefore, I would reiterate that more could be done to make the PTA in Nigerian schools much more relevant than it is now. Especially in the public schools, more parents should become interested in the activities of their wards both at home and in school. Remember, we want to build future champions/leaders, this would not be fully achieved if both parents and teachers don’t come together to work on the future of their wards. It is my hope that more would be done to make the PTA more functional in the public schools, and not just a group that is exclusive only to private and “tush” schools.