An Education think tank, the Africa Education Watch has asked the government to consider the track system if it plans to reopen schools.
Ghana on Monday, March 16, 2020, closed all schools, universities, and suspended public events to stop the spread of coronavirus in the country.
President Nana Akufo-Addo announced in an address to the nation that the authorities were shutting schools and universities “until further notice”
According to the think tank, its proposal will reduce the number of students in schools at a particular time and also deal largely with a potential spread of COVID-19 if schools are reopened.
The Executive Secretary of Africa Education Watch, Kofi Asare in a Citi News interview said three different batches can be adopted depending on the size of a school.
“It may depend on the class size in a particular locality –that’s the average class size –because some have larger class sizes.”
“In countries like, Switzerland and Netherlands they have about three batches going to school so batch 1 goes to school for two days, batch 2 does and batch 3 goes to school on Friday but they will not do 4 hours a day but instead 8 hours. So depending on the municipality’s standard class sizes we may have to do batch not only morning and afternoon but also one could go on an odd day so that we can reasonably distance the students in line with the WHO and the UNESCO protocols,” he said.
The Ghana Education Service recently wrote to the stakeholders in the education sector to make an input into the reopening of the schools in country since the President Nana Akufo-Addo ordered the closure of same.
Annul current academic year, start afresh in September – Neogenics Education Group
Neogenics Education Group, an educational consultancy, had earlier urged the government to nullify the current academic year and start afresh in September following the Coronavirus outbreak in the country.
According to the group, students should be made to repeat their current year or classes.
In a press release signed by Grant Bulmuo, Lead Consultant of the group, their call is backed by research that “a child’s absence from school experience has a significant impact on their future successes and life chances.”
“Research shows that 8 days of absence from school reduces a child’s best chance of success by 4%, 19 days by 10%, 29 days by 15%, 38 days by 20%, and 48 days by 25%. Children in Ghana by the end of May 2020 would have been absent from active learning for almost 50 school days. Your judgement is a good as ours! The majority of our children may hardly remember any of the learning they experienced in school from September 2019.”
To reopen schools or not to
The Ghana National Council of Private Schools GNACOPS says the schools should be opened if government believes it’s safe regardless of the rise in COVID-19 cases in the country.
The position of private schools has been challenged by four teacher unions who are kicking against plans to reopen schools any time soon.
The four are the Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT), National Association of Graduate Teachers (NAGRAT), Tertiary Education Workers Union (TEWU), and Coalition of Concerned Teachers (CCT).
In a joint statement, they indicated that items for the observation of the prescribed protocols which includes face masks and alcohol-based sanitizers are not available in the various schools hence their apprehension.
According to the Teacher Unions, the Ghana Education Service in a circular dated 13th May 2020 had requested for “proposals for the reopening of schools” hence their statement urging government not to consider such decision now.