The Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT) says its members will not go back to the classroom to teach unless government accede to their proposals of ensuring maximum safety of staff and learners in line with COVID-19 protocols.
The proposals include: the government ensuring a mandatory testing of all teachers and learners to ascertain their status, provision of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), Veronica handwashing buckets, alcohol-based hand sanitisers and regular flow of water for all schools in the country.
The President of GNAT, Ms Philippa Larsen said this at the launch of the association’s impact assessment of COVID-19 on the education sector in Ghana.
The 30-page assessment booklet evaluates the potential impact of the pandemic and proposes pragmatic solutions which could help the government and the Ministry of Education to build the required resilience to the pandemic.
Ms Larsen said the association has also recommended adequate numbers of health personnel to be provided in the schools to handle the health needs of teachers and learners.
She said the safety of teachers and students must be clearly outlined by the government before taking any decision to reopen schools amidst the global pandemic.
Although the association is not against the reopening of schools, she said government must satisfy their request.
Ms Larsen explained that the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation and United Nations and other international organisations had examined strategies for handling education in times of crisis in countries such as Ghana.
For instance, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has recommended that the current classroom arrangements which are inconsistent with two metres should be addressed, she said.
The Deputy General Secretary of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), Mr Joshua Ansah said the union had also researched into COVID-19 and its impact on businesses and urged the government to collaborate with the teacher unions for a collective way forward towards the reopening of schools.
This, he said would help build a consensus to curtail the spread of the virus in schools.
BY BERNARD BENGHAN