The President of the National Association of Graduate Teachers (NAGRAT), Angel Carbonu, believes that it will be prudent if final year students of Junior and Senior High Schools are made to stay at home in the wake of the novel coronavirus outbreak.
According to him, the current fear surrounding the pandemic does not create a favourable environment for teaching and learning.
This call follows President Nana Akufo-Addo's directive for the final year students to stay in school as they prepare to write the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) and the West Africa Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE).
Speaking on Eyewitness News, Mr. Carbonu said the continuous stay in school for these students will put the lives of both teachers and students at risk.
“Based on my knowledge, there is uncertainty among the final year students in the school. All the schools are adhering to the directive and it is a very a huge difficulty that we have. In as much as we thank the President for taking that initiative to minimize the possibility of the spread of infection, the announcement from our point of view is not far-reaching enough and we thought that, looking at the exigencies of the situation in apprehension and fear and get to the level that other countries have gotten to, we should have gone the full hog like the universities have shut down and allow first to final years to go home.”
He also raised concerns over the inconducive environment that has been created in schools, a situation that is discouraging the students from even going to school.
“Our call as a teacher union is that the day students will have to commute from home, the majority of the teachers do not leave on campus so they will have to commute from home. The most popular form of transport is ‘trotro’ and we know how congested they are. So it doesn’t make sense to think that we are going to solve the problem in that manner. There is too much fear, scare, and anxiety that the frame of mindset for teaching-learning is not in the schools in the first place. I can assure you that, most of the form threes are not going to school. So our call is that we are able to push it to the full hog for these four weeks and allow everyone to stay at home and asses the situation after weeks…. if we are able to. So we will call on the government to review the decision and ask all schools to be closed because there is so much fear for learning to go on. I am scared myself. You go to the schools and the students are not even prepared for learning.”
Effect on academic work
When asked if allowing the final year students to stay at home will affect the academic calendar, Mr. Carbonu said that should not be a problem if it is in the best interest of members of the academic community.
“If we will live, then so be it. The first order of life is the preservation of life. When you are preserved, you are able to do other things.”
Already, the coalition of Pre-tertiary teacher unions has called for the rescheduling of the BECE and WASSCE because of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
He also urged the government to also explore the possibility of postponing the WASSCE alongside other West African countries.