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General News of Sunday, 17 September 2017

Source: citifmonline.com

Free SHS: Schools can collect PTA levies – GES Council Chair

The collection of Parent and Teacher Association (PTA) levies, will not be entirely illegal under the implementation of the free SHS policy, the Chairman of the Ghana Education Service (GES) Governing Council, Michael Nsowah, has clarified.

He noted on The Big Issue that “the PTA can levy on themselves any fees in support of any project” as long as the possible non-payment does not affect the students’ continued stay in the various schools.

The free SHS policy covers an item called teacher motivation, which the government indicated was to cater for the needs that are often taken care of with PTA levies.

As the first batch of free SHS beneficiaries enrolled in schools, there were reports of parents kicking against PTA levies as their wards registered.

In the case of Bongo SHS in the Upper East Region, PTA levies collected from parents were refunded.

But explaining the position of the government on PTA levies, Mr. Nswowah said “the PTA is an association of matured people. They have come together to support the running of schools, which is a good thing and nobody has said they cannot collect fees.”

“All that the ministry is saying is that, when you want to collect PTA fees, make sure that the collection does not result in a student being sent out of school because of the parent’s inability to pay the fees,” he added.

He stressed that it was important to understand that the PTA levy was a commitment for parents not students.

“…children don’t work and by international convention, they are not supposed to contribute to any fund. It is the parent who made the pledge to contribute and if the parent is unable to contribute, why do you send the child home?”

Reiterating the coverage of the free SHS policy, Mr.Nsowah stated that, “all fees approved by the GES council, for first-year students, other than PTA dues, will be absorbed by the government – all fees, everything, apart from PTA dues.”

Question of PTA membership

As another caveat, Mr. Nsowah highlighted that, parents of wards preparing to register into schools for the first time are technically not members of a school’s PTA.

“The parents of these students who were reporting on Monday, do they belong to the schools PTA? [not as yet.]”