Among Matthew Opoku Prempeh’s numerous defenses for the government’s resolve to not shut down schools, despite the incessant calls to do so considering that Coronavirus cases have been recorded, is saving the students from danger and that includes falling victims to rape.
The Minister of Education has shot down the ‘shutdown of schools’ option, even though some state institutions have done so after some staff tested positive for Coronavirus.
“Do you know what may happen to some of them when they are home? They could be opened up to rape predators and other vices,” he argued in local dialect Asante Twi in an interview on Peace FM.
“I will be committing a sin if I ask that because of some few cases I ask that schools are closed down,” Dr. Opoku Prempeh explained.
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo in his address to the nation announced that final year students of various Senior High Schools and universities, will resume and prepare for their final examination as the government eases restrictions steadily.
Akufo-Addo explained that the decision to include the schools in phase one of the easing of restrictions was taken advisedly.
He said: “There is no one-size-fits-all approach to the resolution of this pandemic. We have our own unique situation in the country, and we have always taken that it into account in dealing with this disease, much as we are prepared to learn from the examples of others.”
“Education, indeed, is the key to the future of our country. The quality of education that our educational institutions produce, ultimately, will determine the success or otherwise of our nation. We, therefore, have to find a way of guaranteeing the prospects of the generation of young people who are the objects of education today, and who represent our future.”
Although the president stressed that measures have been put in place to protect the students, a number of cases have been confirmed in some schools, triggering suggestions for the government to rescind the decision to avoid escalation of the figures.
Nine students of Mpraeso Senior High School in the Kwahu South District of the Eastern Region have been isolated and are awaiting results of tests conducted on them. Prior to this, eight cases of Coronavirus were confirmed at Accra Girls’ Senior High School. News of the confirmation was met with agitation from students and parents.
A few days ago, a final-year student of KNUST SHS in Kumasi died on campus after bouts of vomiting and stomach issues. The school authorities, according to the students, neglected their colleague out of fear of contracting COVID-19, claim authorities have debunked.
In the midst of these, the Ashanti regional chairman of the Ghana Medical Association (GMA) Dr Paa Kwasi Baidoo has appealed to the Ghana Education Service to reconsider the decision to put students in schools but the minister has contested that.
“To what extent should we close the schools? Nobody contracted the virus in the schools, they brought it from home. When you look at the protocols and consider isolation and quarantine, which place would be better to isolate and quarantine. For those saying we should close the schools, I don’t agree with them today or tomorrow. What is important is that the teachers and headmasters adhere to the protocols,” Dr. Opoku Prempeh said without equivocation.
Gathering more arsenals to defend his position, the minister reiterated that, despite the fact that the virus exists, there is still the need for every Ghanaian to play their respective roles in ensuring national growth while adhering to the safety protocols.
He said: “Who should go and work at the ports to generate revenue for people to be paid with. You are getting paid for your work and you say because of COVID you won’t get to work. If you don’t go to work who should work for you to be paid every month. That also does not mean when you go to work you shouldn’t protect yourself from COVID-19. We must go to work and we must protect ourselves and others from contracting the virus.”
The minister has called for the depoliticization of the issue.