UN in Ghana calls on stakeholders in the education sector to make schools safe
In observance of International Day of Education, the UN and partners toured some schools in Accra to assess their adherence to the COVID-19 safety protocols.
Melvin Kale-Dery is a 15-year-old Form 2 science student of the Presbyterian Boys Senior High School in Legon, Accra. He dreams of becoming a medical doctor. For Melvin, COVID-19 is bad. On the flip side, the pandemic is revealing new attitudes and approaches. “Our attitude towards our wellbeing has changed. We are now very conscious of ourselves and our environment. We wash our hands often to keep germs away. Digital technology is also being maximized today, more than ever” Dery says.
After nearly 10 months of closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic, schools have reopened in Ghana and classes for over 9 million students are in full session. The closure of schools from 16 March 2020 to 15 January 2021 as part of the Government of Ghana’s measures to contain the spread of the virus, adversely affected the lives of many learners, teachers and education service providers. At the peak of the pandemic, an estimated 9.2 million students from KG to Senior High School were affected, in addition to 0.5 million tertiary education students, 450,000 non-teaching staff and 450,000 teachers in the public and private institutions.
Following the announcement in early January by the President, HE Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to re-open schools, the Ministry of Education/Ghana Education Service, supported by UNICEF, launched the #BackToSchool Campaign at the national, regional, district and community levels to encourage and welcome students to schools. The campaign is under the COVID-19 Coordinated Education Response Plan for Ghana.
In observance of the International Day of Education which falls on January 24 each year, the UN in Ghana, particularly the agencies working in Education (ILO, UNAIDS, UNESCO, UNFPA, UNICEF, UNHCR, UNU and WFP), issued a statement commending Ghana for responding “swiftly to the learning disruption by putting in place alternative learning solutions, notably Learning Management System (LMS) in many tertiary institutions, the icampus, Ghana Learning TV and Ghana Learning Radio, through which lessons were delivered to basic school pupils.” The UN further highlighted the need to continue addressing capacity needs of the education system and make it more resilient. This according to the UN will require a concerted effort by all stakeholders.
The UN Resident Coordinator, Mr. Charles Abani, later led Heads of the UN agencies working in the sector on a tour of selected schools in Accra to listen to stakeholders and observe the level of adherence to the COVID-19 safety protocols. During the tour, which was at the instance of UNESCO, it was observed that students and faculty have embraced the opportunity to return to school and are doing their best to maintain decorum in keeping with the safety protocols.
The Director General of the Ghana Education Service, Professor Kwasi Opoku Amankwa accompanied the UN officials. He highlighted steps being taken by the Ministry of Education to make the school environment safe for the students and faculty.
Mr. Abani stressed on the need for all stakeholders, including parents, teachers, and students to make health their priority. “Government will do its part, but really parents also need to play their part to ensure their wards are protected and safe”.