Suspension of PTA levies by GES

NEWS COMMENTARY ON THE DIRECTIVE BY THE GES SUSPENDING PAYMENT OF PTA DUES IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS.
The Ghana Education Service (GES), an agency of the Ministry of Education charged with managing, administering, monitoring and supervising the performance, conduct and activities of government assisted schools issued a directive on January 14, 2019 suspending the payment of all PTA levies and fees at Senior High School as well as Technical and Vocational schools across the country. The Director General of the GES, Professor Opoku Amankwa cited some anomalies associated with the payment and administration of the levies.
This suspension raised a lot of concerns. Whereas some have hailed the directive as timely and brave and an opportunity for government to sanitize the system, others have described the intervention as unnecessary, politically motivated and an exercise in futility. Parent Teacher Associations, PTAs, since time immemorial have proven to be key stakeholders in the development of education in the country.
The Associations over the years have contributed to the moral, ethical, religious and intellectual enhancement of educational establishments across the country. PTAs are on record to have built, renovated and rehabilitated dormitory blocks, refurbished staff common rooms and staff bungalows. PTA s have also augmented the payment of wages and salaries of non-teaching staff like security personnel, sanitary and domestic staff in schools. In some they have built infirmaries and clinics and stocked them with vital drugs needed by the students. It is therefore an undeniable fact that PTAs have played and continue to play substantial and complementary roles in the building and development of schools.
With the inception of the Free Education Policy by government, and its attendant increased school enrollment and the introduction of the Double Track System, there has been an unprecedented pressure on government to increase the infrastructure in schools which the Government alone cannot  shoulder. The GES as a government agency cannot be prevented from playing its legitimate role as  watchdog over school managers and administrators. It is however equally important for the GES to admit that the success or otherwise of the Free Educational system hinges on the financial contributions of key stakeholders like PTA and students associations.
One of the reasons cited by the GES in suspending the collection of PTA dues is school authorities preventing students from attending classes and other school activities for nonpayment of the dues. The GES recognises PTAs as legitimate and encourages schools to find innovative ways of collecting the dues as agreed on by the parents themselves. It is therefore self-contradictory for the Service to turn around and say that no student or parent is under compulsion to pay such dues or levies. No wonder, over the past few months, PTA dues have substantially reduced. There is no doubt that some school heads have abused the system thus violating the laws regarding the management of such fund.
Under such circumstances wouldn’t it have been prudent for the GES to employ its monitoring and supervisory mechanisms to identify such errant heads and apply the necessary sanctions rather than suspend the operations of the PTAs in general? One of the ramifications of the suspension is a further dwindling of PTA dues thereby worsening the situation. Would it be expedient to suspend the several extra domestic hands employed by the PTA because the major source of finance has been suspended?
One other issue the GES management should not be oblivious of could possibly be the disinterest on the part of parents, including the well-endowed to continue paying the dues. It is hoped that  the National PTA Executive Committee would play a crucial role  in the  consultative committee set up to  streamline and eventually come up with modalities for the implementation and successful execution of PTA activities.
BY ALFRED HUGHES A JOURNALIST.

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