Parents and students who have in recent weeks mounted pressure on the Akufo-Addo government to allow schools to reopen have been told to put a stop to it.
Schools in Ghana have been shut since the first two cases of COVID-19 was announced to reduce the spread and protect the lives of many others.
But there’s been increasing concerns in recent times over the challenges being faced with the interim measures put in place to facilitate academic activities leading some to suggest an early return to school.
But reacting to these calls, National Association of Graduate Teachers, NAGRAT, President, Eric Angel Carbonu insists that such calls are out of order.
He argues that no one should stampede the decision making process or do anything to compel the government to reopen schools.
The NAGRAT President’s opposition to such suggestions is hinged on the fact that the case count of the country is growing and considering the population issues with our public education system, pupils could be a medium of spreading the virus.
“No one should stampede the government, in compelling the government or putting pressure on the government to open schools. The numbers at the time the President addressed the nation was over 1000 and now we are around 1600 (as of Wednesday night), the deaths are also going up. What happens in a school of 2000 at Presbyterian Boys Senior High School, all sleeping in dormitories, in a classroom with over 50-60 students, if one student is infected with coronavirus you know what will happen
“We know the nature of our senior high schools, we know the nature of our basic schools in this country. I went to one school around La, one class has over 70 pupils. Who is going to tell the class one child about social distancing? The moment you tell a class one child that social distancing, he will prove to you his understanding of social distancing by coming closer and closer.
“Please let us not stampede the government to open schools for there to be any calamity for when it gets to the younger generation, we will all be laughing at the wrong side of our mouths.”
The Education Minister, Matthew Opoku Prempeh, has also ruled out the possibility of a return back to the classroom anytime soon.
He explained that until the situation improves and it is safe and prudent to do so, students will stay at home.
Addressing issue of how they will be assessed, the Minister said there are ongoing consultations and a constant review of the situation to ensure the solution is relevant when rolled out.
“We won’t wait and be confronted with something we haven’t thought through. We have a standing committee chaired by Professor Yankah, working with the universities in coming up with the alternatives. Somebody brought a paper from one university that said we should get into the online assessment. How would I accept the online assessment when I know some persons cannot come online” Opoku Prempeh said about the situation at the tertiary level.
For Junior and Senior High Schools, he said, “There has to be an acceptable assessment method for which we can all agree that if we use this assessment the universities must admit students based on that assessment method.
“If Ghana is COVID free and the other West African countries are not, can WAEC conduct a Ghana exam for us? it is a possibility which I know we are in talks with WAEC over that.
“If the COVID will prevent us from congregating to conduct a Ghana exam, do we have an assessment in place that we can use as a proxy. And yes Ghana Education Service already submits a continuous assessment of all pupils, over the last 20 years, to WAEC, which they use statistical method to make it appropriate to serve as 30% of their final exams. Are we able to use that as a proxy? We will come to that decision.
“If we can’t do any, can we then allow the final year students to do National Service before they come to the university?