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14.03.2020 Feature Article

Education On The Deadly Coronavirus Is Not A Classroom Affair, SHUT DOWN GES SCHOOLS

An Open Letter To The GES Director-General
Prof. Kwasi Opoku-Amankwa- Director-General of Ghana Education Service (GES)
LISTEN MAR 14, 2020
Prof. Kwasi Opoku-Amankwa- Director-General of Ghana Education Service (GES)

Dear, Prof. Kwasi Opoku-Amankwa- Director-General of Ghana Education Service (GES). I salute you and wish to draw your attention to some issues regarding the Coronavirus Pandemic and the need to shut down public schools you superintend over. I hope avidly that this letter gets to your attention. I am encouraged to write to you as a concerned citizen and not a sitting- on- the -fence spectatotor.

Prof. Opoku-Amankwa, I saw a copy of your administrative directive or letter number GES/DG/245/20/113 dated 13th March 2020 (yesterady) and addressed to all Regional Directors of Education. You gave this directive in your capacity as the Director- General of the GES. The caption of your directive under reference reads, Education On Coronavirus Prevention In Schools. In this correspondence, you impressed upon your District Directors of education as well as school heads to liaise with the various District Directors of Health Service for a smooth education on the virus, using the education materials both the GES and the Ghana Health Service (GHS) have developed on CONVID-19.

However, I hold an opposing view to your directive hence this open letter to you. Prof. Opoku-Amankwa, life is the most precious gift from God hence no hope exists without life. Academic pursuits and other endeavours thrive on life and good health. Again, life is like an egg so once it is broken, one cannot bring it back. So far, Ghana has recorded two (2) positive cases of the Coronavirus, an indication that we are not excluded from the effects of the pandemic as declared by the World Health Organization (WHO). It is in this regard that we must take strict actions for the pandemic has been declared as a state of emergency in some other countries so we are not in normal times globally. We must not make the mistake that Europe and for that matter Italy had made in handling the pandemic, Prof. Opoku-Amankwa. The Holy See located within the Vatican City has equally scrapped compulsory Sunday Mass in Italy as a drastic step to stop the Coronavirus. Even the universally present Catholic Church with the Pope at its pinnacle has taken such a shutdown action so why not Ghana?

D-G, death is staring at Ghana in the form of the Coronavirus so we must not be using weaker weapons. We must not attempt to kill a lion with a catapult when we have the time and other resources to own a gun for the purpose. The biggest preventive measure in my view under the circumstance, Prof. Opoku-Amankwa, is to shut down the GES schools and not to keep the schools in session and be doing health education on the pandemic disease. The public is somehow educated now on the disease. What we need now are strict preventive measures such as shutting down the schools before it is too late and not the distribution of education materials alone as you are doing currently. Education on the Coronavirus must not be a crowded classroom affair.

The whole world panics at the mention of the Coronavirus, Prof.Opoku-Amankwa, so let us not play the strong man or the ostrich here. Let us take counsel from Ola Rotimi’s assertion- in his book The Gods Are Not To Blame - that the butterfly must not think himself a bird. Even within the hegemonic boundaries of America, President Trump declared that the Coronavirus pandemic has necessitated a national public health emergency in that country. As a result, schools in 12 of the 50 (24%) states in America have been shut down to millions of students. Even America, the world’s superpower at various fronts worldwide panics at the Coronavirus so how can Ghana portray to be that resilient with health education in schools instead of shutting down those schools? After all, we know the unfortunate nature of most of the GES schools. We also know of the crowded classrooms and compromised environmental hygiene in most of the GES schools.

It is true, Prof. Opoku-Amankwa, that the Easter breaks are near but because we do not know how fast the virus may sweep through Ghana, we need to act swiftly. Knowing that Ghana is currently holding 2 positive cases and the situation may worsen, we can give the exam questions as homeworks to the students and pupils or cancel the exams and let the pupils and students go home before it is too late. The impact on the academic curriculm will not be that big. Even if it is big, it is nothing compared to death or massive infections. After all, even in the late 1990s, the public universities went on a long strike but we were back on track.

Let us not wait till we sing “had I known” at the end. It should not be lost on us that some private schools especially the international schools in the country have started shutting down. Globally, planned gatherings of people are being cancelled and schools are being shut down. Just yesterday, Prof. Opoku-Amankwa, the Govervement of Portugal orderd a nationwide shutdown of all schools in order to contain the Coronavirus. So what are you waiting for as the D-G of the GES to act similarly and expeditiously? America, Belgium,Costa Rica, Qatar and many other countries had taken similar preventive measures to save their people. Let it not be told that under his competent watch, Prof. Opoku-Amankwa acted differently and not proactively so the negative effect is deadly for Ghana.

Prof.Opoku-Amankwa, this is the reason why you need to shut down the GES schools immediately. The advice that we should not panic is no more working. Even the well developed countries with advanced healthcare systems are panicking at the Coronavirus. President Trump of America panics so he has quickly put strigent measures in place to protect the American people. To say and act as if Ghana panics not, is a mendacity of a sort to me. Consider closing down the schools now and send the children home before they become infected in the crowded classrooms. The alarming situation calls for proactive meaures and not kneejerk approaches in despair. Time to act is now, Prof.Opoku-Amankwa.

~Asante Sana ~
Author: Philip Afeti Korto.
Email: [email protected]

Philip Afeti Korto
Philip Afeti Korto, © 2020

Philip Afeti Korto is a seasoned Health Service Administrator and a prolific writer. He is a member of Association of Health Service Administrators, Ghana (AHSAG). Column: AfetiKorto

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