President of the National Association of Graduates Teachers (NAGRAT) Angel Carbonou has warned of damning consequences should Government ignore concerns raised by teacher unions and reopen schools in June 2020.
A request by Ghana Education Service for inputs by the various teacher unions on what modalities should be instituted before schools are reopened has been interpreted as an attempt by Government to reopen schools.
The National Association of Graduate Teachers, the Ghana National Association of Teachers, and the Coalition of Concerned Teachers Ghana in a joint letter to the Education Service, Tuesday, said it will not be prudent for schools to be opened after the 31st May extension by President Akufo-Addo expires.
According to Angel Carbonou, the current case count of the country and the fact that Ghana is recording more community infections should inform the Government’s decision not to give in to demands by some ‘faceless’ people to get schools to be reopened.
Even if President Akufo-Addo announces the reopening of schools, Mr Carbonou says they are not ready to go and die.
“How can you be ready when your life is at stake? We should be ready and go and die? A doctor from Tamale who was in protective gear but still got the virus, even a trained medical practitioner got infected…you mean teachers would be prepared and ready to handle a situation like that though they are not medically trained? he asked.
“We are calling on Government to resist an attempt by certain faceless people to compel it to open the schools. The current situation is such that, it will be in the interest of parents, students and teachers if the schools remain closed. Our most useful and practical input is calling on the Ghana Education Service and the Government at large not to reopen the school based on the statistics that are available with regards to COVID-19. I think that these people may have their parochial interests…For us as unions, we are looking at the lives of the students and the lives of the teachers.”
He added, “For us, statistics and the scientific situation should guide the nation. When the schools were being closed, we had a specific number of infected people but today as we speak, the numbers have gone beyond 5,900 and the deaths have also gone beyond 30. The level of infection is horizontal and no longer vertical, what that means is that we are infecting ourselves in the country as at now. Can you imagine bringing students to Presbyterian boys secondary school or Prempeh college or Tamale secondary school for one student who is infected to be among the total number of students, what sought of pandemic we will now be grappling with?
Though the World Health Organization and the Health Minister, Kwaku Agyeman-Manu have said the Coronavirus has come to stay and people must learn to live with it, Mr Carbonou says that statement must be properly contextualised.
He argued, “If it’s going to be with us for a long time like Malaria or typhoid or hepatitis B, are you going to continue quarantining people for a long time? Because if that statement is true, then next year by this time we should be expecting over 500,000 people under quarantine, which country will be able to quarantine such numbers
“They should quickly define properly what they mean by we should live with it, if we’re going to live with it as we live with malaria, typhoid and etc so that you can just walk into a treatment centre and ask for treatment, if we are living with it in that manner then we know it is a normal disease and there is treatment for it but if that situation does not change, how do you say we are going to live with it.”
Meanwhile, President of the Coalition of Concerned Teachers, King Ali Awudu has suggested that if Government insists on going ahead with the reopening of schools, it should start gradually from the Universities to the Senior High Schools before considering Junior High Schools and Kindergartens in order to observe how social distancing and safety protocols are enforced.