Close down schools, suspend exams–Teacher unions to govt

The growing pressure on the government to reconsider its decision to keep schools open has taken another twist as teacher unions at the pre-tertiary level urge the government to suspend the impending final examinations.

Teachers’ union leaders remain unconvinced that it will be safe to keep the schools open at a time at least 10 senior and junior high schools have recorded COVID-19.

They want the government to close down schools and suspend the upcoming Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) and West Africa Secondary School Certificate Examinations (WASSCE) which starts on July 20.

“What is the point in saying that somebody should go and write an examination when the persons clearly the danger ahead as far as this covid-19 is concern? Mark Korankye, the acting General Secretary of Teachers and Educational Workers Union (TEWU) asked on Joy News.

Final year student in senior and junior high schools resumed on June 22 and June 29, respectively, to prepare for their exit examinations that would open doors to the university and senior high school.

But weeks into the resumption in academic work, nine schools, and a junior high school have recorded at least 70 cases of coronavirus, triggering fear and anxiety among parents, teachers, and students.

But the teacher unions want an end to the episode, which they advised against in the first place.

“For us the teacher unions under the Ghana Education Service, we are saying that it is not just safe. The student should be asked to go back home because when the initial decision was taken, we supported the government that to curb the spread, let us closed down the schools.

“Now, it is spreading even exponentially so when would we want to risk the lives of students and the educational worker?

“If this continuous and the teachers are affected, what do you think will happen? If the teacher who is supposed to help the student is infected, do you think the exams can go on? It can’t, that is why we say that let’s close down the schools,” the acting  TEWU General Secretary intimated.

He argued that the educational sector workers had pre-warned the government to exercise ahead of reopening school to tame the spread.

“Even before the schools reopened, the teacher unions came out say that looking at the spread of the virus, there was the need for us to hasten slowly and to check the spread of the virus before any decision on reopening schools are made.

“Unfortunately, we were given all the assurance that the safety protocols would be adhered to and all the necessary [ logistics] would be provided and so it would be safe for students, teacher and non-teaching staff in the education sector.

“So we agreed that schools should reopen. But as we go along, we realised that even in the schools, there are more cases coming up. Initially it was a few isolated cases, but now the numbers are going up and it is becoming scary.

He questioned the essence of keeping schools open when clearly there were signs of danger ahead.

While the teachers and educational workers’ union hold red flags against the government’s decision to keep schools opened, the Minister of Health blamed the infections on congestion.

“What we’re hearing after investigations is that some of the schools that are getting infections are a bit congested. We’re looking at alternatives as to whether we can decongest the schools, send some of the students to some other schools that are free, and some of the things like that.

Asked what step they would take if their advice was ignored, he said they would meet and take the appropriate action.




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