Professor George K. T. Oduro, a professor of Educational Leadership of the University of Cape Coast has said that approximately 1.7 billion students worldwide have been affected by the closure of schools necessitated by coronavirus pandemic. He said approximately 9.7 million students are affected by this same pandemic in Ghana.
Prof. G. K. T. Oduro was speaking on the topic "Effects of Covid-19 on Education" on GBC Radio Central's Central Morning Show hosted by Ben Nartey today 29th April 2020.
He explained that Covid-19 pandemic is no respecter of persons and has affected all manner of persons from all walks of life. "Coronavirus doesn't discriminate against black or white persons, old or young, Christian or Muslim and neither poor nor rich". He added those who have the notion that coronavirus is a disease for the rich must desist from that and observe all the necessary protocols as prescribed by the Ghana Health Service. "It is very pathetic to see and hear that some persons from the coastal areas in Cape Coast are saying that Covid-19 is a disease for the rich".
In explaining the effects of Covid-19 on education, the Educational Leadership Professor said, coronavirus virus has affected the academic calendar of the entire educational system of world including Ghana. "Children normally learn in schools and take being home as vacation". So the abrupt truncation of teaching and learning would affect the students while at home.
He added that Television and movies easily take away students mind off learning. Peer group and friends take away children's attention from studying as well. "I've seen a lot of children walking in groups around the Apewosika and Amamuma areas in Cape Coast. Instead of learning, they are just walking about in the neighbourhood".
Reacting to how coronavirus and the closure of schools have affected parents, he said "parents would begin to respect teachers after this Lockdown. A lot of parents see children as being troublesome". He added one of the effects the pandemic has also brought about is boredom due to the repetitive nature of activities of students while at home.
Prof. Oduro said notwithstanding the numerous setbacks brought about Covid-19, UNESCO has supported countries to initiate an online teaching and learning portal that can be assessed by children around the world but was quick to add that, the practical challenge with this is the availability of internet and accessibility to all students especially in our part of the world. "Data acquisition and the cost implications to access the online educational material is also hindering students ability to study while at home".
He praised former Minister of education Prof. Naana Jane Opoku Agyemang for the introduction of the ibox initiative. The iBox as an ICT component which is a dual online or offline educational e-resource platform designed to support secondary education in Ghana. The primary appeal of the iBox is that it is a proven technology. It brings classroom teaching to students digitally, and interactively.
"Coronavirus has affected education gravely but with the measures put in place by government are good even though not perfect would help us going forward" Prof. Oduro said.
Responding to parents who are using their kids to run errands and sell their wares for them instead of allowing them to stay home and learn, the Educational Leadership Professor said, "some parents are not financially sound and are compelled to let their kids assist whiles at home, however, what can be done is that, the assemblies can pass bylaws to debar such parents from doing so or possibly Nananom can also help in that regard". He added that though every child belongs to a family and the responsibility of taking care of them rest with parents, the traditional authorities working in collaboration with the assemblies can also help in this regard.
Prof. G. K. T. Oduro said this Covid-19 has opened our eyes to the essence of distance education and government must begin to look at how we can make distance learning better going forward.
In concluding the discussion, he said, What Covid-19 has taught in terms of hygiene must be maintained and same must be part of our curriculum in order to instil that habit in our children going forward.