Mr. George Akom, a Social Commentator and Educationist has alluded to that educational institutions in Ghana could not be opened in a wholesale manner under the same guidelines and protocol arrangements for all levels of education against COVID 19 for a safer and healthy environment guiding academic and non-academic activities in our schools in the present circumstances of the pandemic.
He addressed that there have been several different proposals emanating from individuals, groups, Civil Society Organisations (CSO), educational stakeholders and allied groups addressed to the government of Ghana through the Ministry of Education (MoE) and the Ghana Education Service(GES) as guidelines towards the re-opening of schools across the country.
He added that there have been mixed reactions as to the re-opening of schools in Ghana with opposing views because of these different and divergent protocol arrangements proposed by interested groups and stakeholders.
He emphasized that the main factors for these mixed reactions are inherent in what he described as “Interlock Quadrangulation Factors”, which are Risk to public health, Economic activities and drive, Student learning and progress, and Safeguarding readiness.
Mr. Akom who is also an Assistant Registrar of the Ghana Technology University College stressed that each of these four factors is seen to be more particularly concerned about by the various groups and individuals for any side they belong.
“Whiles some are concerned about the safety in our schools in terms of logistical readiness to contain the spread of the virus among learners and the general public, others are concerned about how the closure of schools has affected their economic activities and their daily survival, and more so with students learning towards their progress to the next level of the education.
Parents are even tired of handling and controlling their children all day all week, especially those who use schools as childcare centers”, he bemoaned.
He averred that many of these proposals outlined towards the re-opening of schools sought to address a certain particular stratum of the level of education, cohort, session or ownership and management without addressing all the schools and their existing operations in entirety.
He affirmed that schools in Ghana at the various levels differ in diverse ways, and their operations are varied in terms of what happens daily.
What will be applicable to one particular school even at the same level will not be equally applicable to another.
The dynamisms in schools are very complex which require well laid down structures and policies to internally regulate learners activities. Behaviour of self-discipline has been another factor in the fight against COVID 19.
This implies that schools that would not able to enforce guidelines and control the behaviours of learners could be causing more harm than good.
We should not forget of the fact that guidelines that require willingness and discretionary compliance is not good for individuals or groups in any indiscipline setting without strict law enforcement with security forces involvement.
Even with adult groups, you always see how security personnel go through difficulties in enforcing simple instructions of wearing nose mask and abiding by social and physical distancing protocols, how much more of children at some levels of education.Mr. Akom stressed.
He emphasized that each level of education that is to be COVID 19 readiness for re-opening requires a different specific comprehensive and well-structured guidelines backed by a sustainable logistical supply for such implementation.
He further asserted that re- opening of each level of schools would come with its challenges, being Pre Tertiary or Tertiary, Day or Boarding, Private or Public, Shift or Regular, Regional or District of which these leave us with the question of which schools should be exactly opened.
Some levels school re-opening would require international, regional, district, and community movement of staff, lecturers, tutors, teachers and learners with associated vertical and horizontal spread considering case by case of countries, regions, districts and communities of reported cases of the disease.
Hiterated that the Reproduction value simply called the “R” value which is the way of rating a disease ability to spread in terms of the number of people that an infected person would pass on the virus onto could be high when an outbreak occurs in a school setting because of the strong social cohesion that exists there.
He pleaded with educational establishments that have been affected financially by the closure of educational activities to seek for support from the government to contain their situation to allow the government to put appropriate measures in place till such a time it would be safe for all schools to be opened.
Adding that, any outbreak that would happen in schools during re-opening in this present time could cause the country dearly for damage control despite all the efforts by the government in the fight against the pandemic in Ghana.
He mentioned that ownership and governance of schools, finance, physical infrastructure of schools, health logistics, and lack of standardization in schools would be major challenges to the re –opening of all schools.
Mr. Akom opined that mass opening of schools would require financial, operational, and environmental and health safety feasibility studies to come out with a safer roadmap to determine an appropriate and conducive time for such exercise.
He therefore pleaded with stakeholders to exercise restraints for the government to decide when it would be appropriate to re-open schools in consultation with the health experts in the quest of fighting the pandemic.
Source: Broadcastergh.com/Ayisah Foster