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17.03.2020 Feature Article

Politics, Policies, COVID-19, SHS And The Presidential Directives

Politics, Policies, COVID-19, SHS And The Presidential Directives
LISTEN MAR 17, 2020

This rather short write up intends questioning the exemptions on crowds granted by the President of the Republic of Ghana on the Free Senior High School students at the preparatory stage of their final examination. Like all well-meaning institutions of learning and policymakers in the educational sector, investment on students become waste when students results at the end of the period shows extreme failures. I will want to think that, this informed the President’s exemptions of final year SHS students from the closure and isolation rules announced on Monday 15th March 2020 to ensure high success rate for the first batch of the free SHS.

It will be recalled that, in a state broadcast, the President directed universities and other sectors of the economy to avoid physical meetings and opt for working from home. A directive which has since witnessed the applause of many Ghanaians as a bold leadership step.

The exemption, however, has kept many wondering if the social space recommended by experts does not apply to students of the Senior High Schools?. Indeed, the President may have made the exemption on the famous reasoning that, the disease thrives in persons with weak immune systems; largely adults. If my assumption is right, the President’s judgment could be a good one. My point of departure from his reasoning is the truth that the immune system is not a total guarantee for young persons to escape the infections of this deadly virus.

Having thought this way, I would want to reason as speculated that, the flagship programme that brought the ruling NPP to power is the free SHS, whose litmus test would be the first batch of its graduates who are currently being prepared for the examination; unfortunately being threatened not by opposition political parties but the Covid 19. Though the speculators may not be right, it is reasonable to think that, a massive failure of the students at the first test of this free SHS model is likely to affect the political gains of the ruling NPP, especially so when Ghana is getting into its Presidential and parliamentary elections this year. It is this reasoning that has triggered my putting pen to paper this day.

Perhaps wrong thinking by the speculators but it remains that, all have rights to their lines of thinking. On the strengths on this, I firmly think the students should staying at home. I believe that a regular challenge of the free SHS since its inception is the overcrowding of classrooms, dormitories and other facilities (see Awaah, 2019a; Awaah, 2019b; Awaah, 2019c). Crowding is the breeding ground for the Coronavirus disease thus the recommendations by experts to keep good social distances. A good social distance is an arm-length distance, a situation I envisage difficult to achieve for our SHS student overnight. There is the temptation to reason that since the first and second-year students will not be in school, there will be room for all. This assumption frightens me in the instance of dormitories and dining space where students are grouped to share food from pans.

I would rather we uphold our health and put our final year students on hold to check the spread of the disease, but a colleague just whispered to me – the elections. I don’t agree with him, I think it is an emergency decision which, with the benefit of hind thinking can be reversed to protect the life of the ordinary Ghanaian.

There is no need for multiple folds of grade A certificates when the beneficiaries will not survive to put them to use. If I am asked as a citizen and not a spectator, a reversal of that particular directive is necessary for the shedding of fear of the ordinary Ghanaian.

References

Awaah, F. (2019). Worrying State of Ghana’s Educational System: Causes and Cures. Modern Ghana.com. Available at https://www.modernghana.com/news/941508/worrying-state-of-ghanas-educational-system-caus.html

Awaah, F. (2019). The Price Of Free: A Case of Ghana’s Free SHS Educational System. Ghana Broadcasting Corporation. Available online at https://www.gbcghanaonline.com/commentary/price-of-free-education-a-case-of-ghanas-free-senior-high-school-system/2019/

Awaah, F. (2019). Mitigating Admission Deficits Envisaged by the Free Senior High School Policy – A Case for Open Education. Ghanaian Times.

Fred Awaah
Fred Awaah, © 2020

Fred Awaah lectures at the University of Professional Studies – Accra, Ghana. He has taught in universities in Botswana, Lesotho and Nigeria and has been visiting fellow at the IACIU and Centre for Human Security - NigeriaColumn: FredAwaah

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