Editorial: Closing our schools again is not a bad idea!
The National Council of Parent-Teacher Associations (NCPTAs) and the National Association of Graduate Teachers (NAGRAT) have both asked the government to send all school children waiting to write their final examinations home.
Schools across the country have been opened for students in their final year to write their final examinations. In senior high schools (SHS), second-year gold track students are also in school to finish up their semester.
But, in the estimation of NCPTAs, under the current circumstances, the children are psychologically unstable and would, therefore, not be of sound mind to write the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) and Basic Entrance Certificate Examination (BECE) and come out successfully.
NAGRAT has said the present development raises concerns of fear over what may be happening in other schools across the West African country.
The opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) has said rising Coronavirus (COVID-19) cases is proof that Ghana is losing the fight to the pandemic, and subsequently called on Nana Akufo-Addo to close down schools it recently reopened, especially the SHSs, to address the rising case count.
In fact, the NDC has demanded the immediate closure of all reopened schools, which, according to them, were hurriedly reopened under the guise of facilitating the writing of the WASSCE, just to make room for the Electoral Commission to register SHS students on their school campuses.
The Senior Vice President of policy think tank Imani, Africa, Kofi Bentil, has also called for the closure of schools following the occurrences of COVID-19 in them, wondering why the Supreme Court and Ministry of Finance will close down due to the virus, but allow schools to continue to operate.
Mr. Bentil does not understand why the Supreme Court and the Ministry of Finance have been closed down after recording some cases, but schools continue to operate, even after recording cases on campus. This development, Mr. Bentil finds untenable, and wants the schools closed.
On the other hand, the Chairman of the Ghana Education Service (GES) Council, Michael Nsowah, says the COVID-19 cases recorded in the Senior High schools across the country have not got out of hand. His submission is in spite of reports that indicate that over 10 Senior High schools have recorded cases of the COVID-19.
The Minister for Education, Matthew Opoku Prempeh, has asked Ghanaians how teachers would be paid if students are made to stay home.
The Chronicle has followed the arguments for and against the reopening of schools, and we are convinced to be on the side of those who suggest that these examinations should be postponed till the situation is brought under control.
We believe that, among other things, the inadequacy of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and the non-availability of the same in some schools are some of the reasons why the children are not safe in school at this moment.
The Chronicle is further alarmed by the suggestion by a private Medical Practitioner, Dr. Derrick Owusu, that the number of COVID-19 cases among final year students in some Senior High schools in the country is likely to escalate if stringent preventive measures are not taken.
This comes after quite a number of students of Accra Girls’ Senior High School and other Senior High schools tested positive for the Coronavirus, for which reason the two unions have called on the government to close down schools.
The Chronicle would appeal to the Ghana Education Service (GES) and Ghana Health Service to take into consideration the health of the students, even though their education is equally important.
The Chronicle would like to emphasise that we can only win this war when we listen to the experts. We, therefore, on the GES to sit around the table with the Ministry of Health and fashion out the best action to be taken in the midst of this pandemic, as we strive to push our children up the academic calendar.