The Minority caucus in Parliament is demanding that the government closed down all Senior High Schools (SHS) and Junior High Schools (JHS) across the country with immediate effect to stop the further spread of coronavirus among students and their teachers.
They contended that the reported cases of the respiratory disease in some schools does not auger well for sound teaching and learning in the schools.
Two weeks into resumption of the schools to prepare final year students for the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) and the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) cases of coronavirus have been recorded at Accra Girls, Konongo Wesley Girls and Mfantsipim SHSs.
At the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology SHS, a final year student was reported dead after he was neglected by school authorities for fear of having contracted the disease.
Briefing the media in Parliament on Wednesday, the Ranking Member on the Education Committee, Dr Clement Apaak said the students being in schools was an exercise in futility because they would not be in the right frame of mind to sit for the examination.
“What happened at the Accra Girls SHS and the Kwame Nkrumah University Science and Technology (KNUST) SHS are clear examples of fear and panic among students, and how do we expect students to focus on studying and writing exams?”it asked.
He said as things stood now, it was prudent government closed the schools down in order not to put the life of the students at risk.
“Sick students, and God forbid, dead students cannot write exams. We can postpone the exams but we cannot postpone the safety of our future leaders,”he stated.
He accused the government of turning deaf ear to concerns raised by stakeholders in the education sector prior to resumption adding that contrary to advice, many schools only received their personal protective gears this week.
“In some schools the day that students reported to campuses was the day fumigation took place. The government turned deaf ears for the advice to test both teaching and non-teaching staff as well as students before allowing them to be on campus,” he said.
To him, the motive behind the resumption of the schools – to prepare the students for their exit examinations – would not be achieved since there was fear and panic amongst the school communities.
“First of all, the students are not in good frame of mind, they are panicking and terrified and parents are anxious and teachers are fearful. So, if for nothing at all how do you expect students to study and pass their exams when they are panicking and they cannot get even the basics that will reassure them that their safety is guaranteed?
“That is why we are saying like other countries such as Israel and Germany where schools re-opened and as a result of infections in those schools they had to close them down; there is no reason why we cannot do that.
“Once we now know that the pandemic is present on our campuses why are we asking students to be in school when their colleagues have tested positive?”he asked.
He wondered why Cabinet had to be suspended for two weeks due to suspicion of infections among some government official, yet SHS and JHS were left to their fate.
He said other West African countries with which Ghana writes the WASSCE had postponed writing of the exams so“why the insistence of the Ghanaian final year students in JHS and SHS to write exams under such terrifying conditions?” he quizzed
BY JULIUS YAO PETETSI