NEWS COMMENTARY ON REOPENING OF SCHOOLS
President Akufo-Addo last Sunday, announced the reopening of schools after being closed in March last year to avoid the spread of Coronavirus. As per the announcement, Kindergarten, Primary and Junior High School students in both private and public schools will return to the classroom from January 15. Furthermore, Senior High School students, except those in SHS 1, will return to school on January 18, 2021. He further stated that all SHS 1 students would start classes on March 10, 2021, while students in universities and other tertiary institutions will be in school from January 9. According to President Akufo-Addo, during his 21st national update on COVID-19, the decision to reopen schools resulted from extensive and detailed consultations with all stakeholders in the health and educational sectors.
The announcement has generated debate among people with more divergent views. While many deem the reopening as long overdue, others have expressed the view that it is premature as the pandemic is not yet over. Some argue that the school closure has left its woeful traits in the nation’s academic calendar, which will negatively affect holistic education in the country and eventually the national human resources capacity in the future. For others, the closure of schools in the country has created a vacuum between the interest of the pupil and academic activities. It has brewed truancy and heightened child labour. Some girls in first cycle school have been impregnated and may have their education truncated. The closure of schools, according to some parents and guardians, disorganized them as they had to choose between working and staying home to take care of their wards. Whatever the debate is and however it is looked at, Coronavirus has come to stay and according to experts, it will continue to linger on for a while.
There is the need for government to strategize and pragmatically work out modalities to get education in the country running as it should. This is paramount now more than ever.COVID-19 is threatening to erase many of those gains chalked up as a nation, including those in the education sector. Around the globe, more than 91 percent of students have been impacted by temporary school closures, according to the United Nations. By November last year, close to 1.6 billion young students were out of school. Ghana unfortunately is not exempt, having its fair share of the unfortunate effect of the situation. Some experts fear school closures and the loss of some family incomes could keep children out of school indefinitely. Ghana has worked so hard to get school children in school. The urgent need to move on as a country is key. Coronavirus or not, life must go on. After all, many economic, social and religious activities are religiously going on, and education, which we all consider as the bedrock of the nation, cannot be relegated to the background.
If we are looking at the future and not only the present, then all efforts must be employed to see our educational system running and doing so well again. It is said that the presence of educated citizens can help to achieve multidirectional growth and development in society, thereby covering all the economic, socio-cultural, technological, and political aspects of regional and national development.
The same is true about future educated citizens. This is why government and all agencies within the education and health sectors need to be commended for the bold and pragmatic steps to reopen schools in the country. The assurance by the president must be taken in good faith. National sensitization by the Ministry of Information and Education, GhanaHealth Service and the Ghana Education Service which began last Monday, to help prepare, inform and educate guardians, students and the public on further modalities associated with the re-openings is commendable.
The future of this country depends on education. let’s not play politics with it rather everyone must play his or her role effectively and efficiently to succeed in getting schools to resume. Together Ghana can beat this pandemic in the shortest possible time.
BY DR. NANA SIFA TWUM, MEDIA AND COMMUNICATIONS CONSULTANT