Schoolchildren in flood areas need support

By now it is quite obvious that the spillage of the Akosombo and Kpong dams has become a national disaster considering the havoc it has wreaked on the communities near the banks of the Volta and in some cases, away from the course of the water.

In all of this, schoolchildren have been hard hit.

Reports have it that a total of over 2,000 children have been displaced.

In sympathising with the victims of the floods, this disaster brings to the fore the need to have an emergency educational policy for the country.

Indeed, the COVID-19 pandemic that took the world by storm in 2019, extending into 2020 and 2021, disrupted every imaginable human activity, including education.

The pandemic caught many countries, particularly developing countries, unawares as far as disaster preparedness in the educational sector is concerned.

With the COVID-19 experience, we had expected that the current disaster should not affect the learning outcomes of schoolchildren in the affected areas, but the situation seems to be the same as it was in 2020.

It is good that the Minister of Education, Dr Yaw Osei Adutwum, last Tuesday toured some of the affected communities, where schoolchildren, teachers and educational facilities are affected.

During the visit, the minister is said to have given an assurance that the ministry was set to come out with specific priority support packages for teachers and schools, to ensure the smooth running of education in the affected areas.

Dr Adutwum added that the ministry would commit great zeal and resources to secure an early remedy to the problem to ensure that education was not under threat in the affected areas.

The Daily Graphic believes that the assurance by the ministry has given hope to the people, especially for the schoolchildren who are traumatised because of the havoc the floods have unleashed on the communities and their schools.

However, we think that by now the Ghana Education Service (GES), which is the direct supervising agency, should have furnished the minister with a situational report, with specific details and information on the plight of the teachers and schoolchildren as well as learning outcomes in the affected areas.

This is particularly crucial, knowing that the disaster struck two weeks ago but the minister is now getting to know the effect and impact on learning in the affected areas.

We wonder why it should take the minister in person to visit the areas to get first-hand information when this visit should have been the time to roll out the specific priority support packages he spoke about.

On their own, the Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT) toured the areas and made some donations to teachers.

During the tour, the Volta Regional Chairman of GNAT, David Kata, who briefed the national executive of the association, said 300 teachers in 70 basic and second cycle schools in the Volta and Oti regions had been displaced.

According to him, a total of 2,000 schoolchildren from the affected areas have also been impacted negatively by the spillage and denied access to education.

It is important that efforts are expedited to ensure that schoolchildren, who, unfortunately have been caught up in the disaster through no fault of theirs are not unduly disadvantaged.

We believe that arranging a crash programme to enable the affected children to catch up with their mates when the situation normalises should not be difficult for the GES.

Programmes such as free intensive extra and weekend classes can be organised, while incentive packages are made available to teachers who will be involved in this.

For now, the GES can organise virtual lessons for the children on the local FM stations and mobile vans.

This is to ensure that no child is left behind in the learning process because of the flood.

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