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Reopening of schools bold decision- Key stakeholders

BY: Emmanuel Bonney
• Mr Thomas Musah — Gen Secretary, GNAT

Three key stakeholders in education have described the reopening of pre-tertiary educational institutions across the country, after nine months of closure as a bold decision by government.

The stakeholders are the Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT), the Coalition of Concerned Teachers (CCT) and the Ghana National Council of Private Schools (GNACOPS).

In their view, any decision to delay the reopening of schools any further will lead to the increase in social vices among the youth, such as teenage pregnancy, truancy and loitering.

The groups believe that children have been home for too long and so to have them stay longer would not be helpful, especially when there have been some improvement in the COVID-19 situation in the country, coupled with the successes chalked up in the pilot scheme for a section of students with regard to the measures adopted to make schools safe from the COVID-19.

The General Secretary of GNAT, Mr Thomas Musah; the President of the CCT, Mr King Ali Awudu, and the Executive Secretary of GNACOPS, Mr Enoch Kwasi Gyetuah, made the assertions in separate interviews with the Daily Graphic over the weekend.

The three associations called on the public to support the government to make the school environment safe for students to return to the classroom.

They also urged chiefs, religious bodies, civil society organisations and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to take more interest in the safety of students and teachers and offer support in whatever way they could to ensure smooth academic calendar.

Among other things, the groups said the schools could be supported with personal protective equipment on the COVID-19, such as face masks, hand sanitiser, Veronica buckets, tissue paper and infrared thermometers.

Schools closure

On Monday, March 16, last year, the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, announced the closure of schools following reported cases of the COVID-19 in the country.

At a subsequent time, schools were reopened for final-year students to go back and write their final examinations.

Students in Form Two were also consequently allowed to return to school, under strict observance of the COVID-19 safety protocols.

Yesterday, the President announced that all schools, including pre-schools and primary schools, be reopened.

GNAT

Mr Musah described the reopening of schools as a "rescue mission".

He noted, for instance, that according to the Ghana Living Standard Survey Seven, some 651,000 children who had attained the age of four could go to school, instead of being at home.

CCT

Mr Awudu said it was important to learn lessons from incidents that had happened, protect oneself from those that were negative and observe what had happened subsequently.

He said once the required safety protocols on COVID-19 had been put in place, there was no need to keep schools closed and keep children who had attained school age at home.

GNACOPS

For his part, Mr Gyetuah said private schools were ready for schools to be reopened.

According to him, private schools had enough spaces and were capable of making sure that schoolchildren observed the safety protocols on the disease.

He said the council of private schools was in the process of procuring 450 buses for its members to ensure enough spacing for their students who boarded buses to school, since in the past some school buses were rickety and overcrowded.

Meanwhile, he said, the council was faced with the challenge of obtaining a tax waiver.

“We are in touch with the Ministry of Education to assist it to get a waiver.” he said.