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27.03.2006 Education

Education Ministry issues statement on solar eclipse

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Accra, March 27, GNA - In connection with the expected eclipse on the sun on Wednesday, March 29, 2006, the Ministry of education and Sports wishes to caution the general public, parents, school heads and teachers in particular that the phenomenon poses a potential danger to school children who are not supervised during the occurrence of the phenomenon.

Accordingly, the Ministry has issued the following directives for the compliance of all school heads and teachers. That, Wednesday, March 29, 2006 is not a public holiday. As such, parents and teachers should ensure that all children go to school on the said date.

That, all school children should endeavour to be in school latest by 7:30 hours to allow for at least an hour's orientation by teachers before the expected time of the eclipse.

Teachers are instructed to provide adequate supervision to ensure that school children are not allowed to observe the eclipse with their naked eyes when the moon starts emerging from behind the sun, and the sun's radiation is becoming stronger, since failure to use the appropriate filtration shades may result in permanent eye damage or blindness to pupils.

Teachers are further instructed to be guided by the following information provided by the Centre for remote Sensing and Geographic Information Services (CERSGIS) of the University of Ghana. The process of the Moon traversing across the Sun's disk will last about an hour, starting from 0830 hour and finally terminating at 0930 hours of the morning of Wednesday, March 29. The mid-point will be at 09:08 hours in the Western Region; 0910 in Central Region; 0912 in Greater Accra and Eastern regions, and parts of Ashanti and 0914 in Volta Region.

These are approximate times. During the first and second halves, each of thirty or more/less minutes the children will need their shades to view the passage of the moon across the Sun's disk.

During the mid-point when the obscuring will produce the darkness, school children have to be led by their teachers to come out - all of them to see the sun eclipsed by the Moon. They will see the twilight darkness around, while the obscuring lasts. Some communities will see that for 3 minutes or more, others will see it for just a minute. When the Moon starts emerging from behind the Sun, and the sun's radiation is becoming stronger, teachers will have to send those without shades in to prevent them risking viewing. They can alternatively organise the watching in batches for viewing both the first band the second halves.

The occasion must be used to explain a few relevant topics related to the phenomenon. School children themselves would want to experience it with their peer groups. At school the few shades acquired could be used by them in batches during the hour-long process. If the school has none at all, then it will have to wait much later on for GTV to show what they would have captured. But school in the Totality Zones, which have no shades, should view only the darkness with their naked eyes.

Before and after the darkness they should not be allowed to come about to view the partial. The same goes for schools outside the zone of Total Eclipse. They will need the shades for the entire period. Teachers could obtain further information about the phenomenon from the handbook supplied by the CERSGIS in which all districts have been listed according to Total and Partial, well as duration of the Total.