Guidelines For Reopening Of Schools In Ghana; My Inputs
By Nana Kwadwo Akwaa
The global effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on lives of humans have not only been negative against the health of the citizens of respective nations; leading to about 5.35 million confirmed cases, 2.14 million recoveries and 343,000 deaths, but also, the virus has hugely adversely affected the human resource development of most nations through closure of schools; leading to the disruption of learning of over 1.4 billion children and youth across the globe.
Due to the world gradually journeying to set the stage for the economic battle among nations under the novel COVID-19 pandemic due to the world’s uncertainty about an end to the pandemic, nations have seen the need to balance the equilibrium between the reduction of the virus’ transmission and the improvement of the human resource development while the world searches for adequate measures to bring an end to the virus’ spread.
But the above has become a very challenging task due to how an accomplishment of one has the tendency to inversely proportionally affect the other. For instance, when students are allowed back into schools, it has the tendency to increase spread, and when spread are decreased through the continuous closure of schools, it also has the tendency to diminish the human resource development.
As a result, informed by a speedy national economic growth necessity and achievement, as nations across the globe strive with all the urgency to mitigate the effects of the virus on the health of their respective citizens, same conscious efforts and measures are also being considered requisite, and being employed by the nations to reduce the virus’ prevailing effects on their respective human resource development.
Ghana has not been different, as the past weeks have been occasioned with the nation’s desperate search for measures to open up the educational sector of the country to help boost the nation’s rapid human resource development which has been drastically slowed by the Coronavirus pandemic. Aside the economic effects Ghana is likely to face as a result of the continuous closure of schools, it is likely to also incur some social effects such as increase in the risk of teenage pregnancy, sexual exploitation, child marriage, violence, mental trauma and others.
Per the frantic efforts by most to bring on board inputs to help the Government of Ghana to gradually open up the education sector and at the same time hugely mitigate the risk of spread, below are my suggestions to help Ghana with her agenda to open up her educational sector.
I will first of all categorize students/learners in Ghana into three, and it would be based on the learners’ vulnerability, awareness/knowledge level of the virus, its spread, measures to reduce its spread, and ability to adhere to preventive measures. They are; Higher Risk, Medium Risk and Lower Risk.
Higher Risk: it would comprise of learners from Nursery/Kindergarten to Primary Four (4)
Medium Risk: it would comprise of learners from Primary Five (5) to Senior High School (SHS) One (1)
Lower Risk: it would comprise of learners from SHS Two (2) to Tertiary Level.
Below are the suggestions;
The High Risk would have to be exempted for the period until the country has had greater control over the virus in terms of cure and rate of spread. Policies regards Home Schooling would be the best option for such category till the Government has had firm grip over the notoriety of the virus
For the Medium Risk and Low Risk categories, they can be allowed back in school under the following guidelines below;
1. Schools under these categories should be run under a distance learning mode of education coupled with Electronic/Online Learning methods.
i. Distance Learning or Distance Education is the education of students who may not always be physically present at school.
II. Online Learning is when one takes course online instead of in a physical classroom
2.Every section/track of a school should be divided into three sets. For instance with an SHS running on two tracks, it would mean that each track should be divided into three, which would then result in six different sets for such a school. From a basic point of view, it would mean that each class should be divided into three resulting in each class/lecture room being occupied by 1/3 of what it previously used to be occupied with. This is to help ensure at least minimum social and physical distancing protocols among students, teachers and individuals found at a period in an educational institution.
Example; meaning for each set, a class/lecture room of a student capacity of 90 would now take 30, dormitory of a capacity of 60 would now take 20, a school of a student population of 3000 would now take 1000 and a school of a teacher population of 90 would now take 30.
3.These three sets in each school will have each of the sets attend school for a rigorous face to face learning for a short period and then continue the rest of the studies at home with an equipment of the students with the appropriate learning resources (Hardcopy and Electronic). Meaning while two of the sets are at home, one of the sets would occupy the school for their section. This should continue in a cycle until they all respectively write their end of term/semester exams.
4.The type of learning resources particular students should be equipped with should depend on their respective identified deficiencies such as availability of internet, computers, phones and others. For instance, students who won’t have access to internet and electronic devices should be given hard copies of learning resources, and students who have access to internet and electronic learning devices can be engaged through electronic learning tools such as WhatsApp, Skype, Zoom, Google, electronic learning materials and others.
5.The schools should be make sure to educate students, teachers, other workers and visitors to strictly adhere to physical distancing and other directives such as consistent hand washing, hand sanitizing, wearing nose mask, building immune system, periodic checking of temperature and others.
More over, as the Government runs the above, she should set dates for the final year students of both SHS and Junior High School (JHS) to respectively write their final year exams.
Education is very important and we can not put it to a stop, but at the same time, we can not also risk the health of the citizenry, so, the above are my suggestions of how I believe Government can best run our education system until she gains total control over the virus after which the Government can return the education of the country to normalcy.
Hhhhmm, May God be praised always
Nana Kwadwo Akwaa
Member, Critical Thinkers International (CTI)