TT needs a national policy which gives parents the right to request time off from work to attend Parent Teacher Association (PTA) meetings.
The call comes from outgoing president of the National PTA (NPTA), Zena Ramatali, who spoke yesterday, ahead of the election of national officers during the NPTA’s 57th Annual Conference of Delegates at Preysal Secondary School, Preysal, Couva.
“Parents’ attendance at PTA meetings is often poor. When asked, most parents cite work commitments as the number one reason why they don’t show up. This is why we need a national policy that would see parents getting time off from work to attend their child’s PTA meetings.”
Asked how she envisioned such a policy working, Ramatali told Sunday Newsday, “The school could stamp a form for parents to submit to their employers, so the time off would be validated.”
She made a link between the importance of PTA attendance and need for greater parental involvement in addressing the bad behaviour exhibited by some students.
“Often times the parents of so-called problem students have difficulty getting time off to meet their child’s teachers.”
“If we had a national policy that gives parents time off from work, when a teacher requests a meeting, they could say yes. Those meetings are a step toward finding ways to help their child without fear of losing their job or having their salary cut for the time they took off work.”
On the topic of cellphone use in schools, Ramatali argued that it was time TT developed and implemented relevant guidelines.
“We need a robust and clear policy for students’ use of cellphones. In Canada, one of the largest school boards has reversed a cellphone ban that had been in place for four years. They now let teachers decide when students can use their phones because it’s been recognised that cellphones are a part of daily life.”
Ramatali said local guidelines should require parents and students to sign a contract which, if broken, would see parents, too, being penalised if their child broke the cellphone rules.
What sort of penalties should be imposed was something Ramatali said should arise from a consensus of parents and teachers.
In related news, Ramatali reiterated the NPTA’s request that each school be assigned a truancy officer to address delinquency.
She also called for an audit of the student-teacher ratios at all schools.
Ramatali cited the fact that some schools had too few teachers while others had such high delinquency rates that some teachers had near empty classrooms.
The NPTA plans to raise these and other matters with the Education Ministry.