The Member of Parliament for the North Tongu in the Volta Region, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa has suggested the government could have used Continuous Assessment to grade final year students in Junior and Senior high for their progression into the next level instead of reopening schools as the country still battles against the global novel coronavirus.
Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa’s comment follows Sunday, May 31 announcement by President Akufo-Addo indicating that schools have been reopened to final year students in the country as he eases the COVID-19 restrictions.
He commended President Akufo-Addo for his bold decision to reopen the school for only final year students to resume classes, complete their academic year and sit for their forthcoming exit examinations
However, the Member of Parliament suggested that continuous assessment of final year students in JHS and SHS could have been used to promote to the next level in education.
He gave an alternative that if not the continuous assessment, a one-off entrance exam could have been considered at the point of entry into SHS and tertiary institutions in August/September at the beginning of the 2020/2021 academic year to skip many risky weeks in school.
He continued “Considering that the 2019/2020 academic year had only two weeks to run its course when schools were closed, there wouldn’t have been a significant loss of contact hours if the above suggestions were implemented.”
According to the lawyer he has been informed that most universities had completed their academic works and are “made to sit for online examinations or submit term papers, through the online learning programme. This practice he said when continued would have reduced the risk of tertiary students congregating for six long weeks.
He also raised a concern about the directive by Dr. Mathew Opoku Prempeh, the Education Minister indicating that all final-year day students join their colleagues to become boarders in their respective schools,
Samuel said “The Minister appears to forget that by my checks, there are as many as 145 senior high schools in Ghana which are strictly day schools and, so, do not have the luxury of boarding facilities. How do these students become boarders in such schools without dormitories, dining halls, and bathrooms?”
“Even with the 576 senior high schools with boarding facilities, we do know the configuration of particularly residential facilities is very communal. There are only a few bathrooms for many students to share.
The lack of exclusive spaces would put many students at risk if one student is COVID-19 positive. Without any structural design changes or reconfiguration of boarding facilities which were not built with highly contagious diseases such as the novel coronavirus in mind, we all ought to be extremely cautious”, Mr Ablakwa warned.
He added: “The other matter that may have been overlooked is the financial burden on parents and guardians of day students. Data already reveal that most day students who currently make up 37% of students at the second-cycle level belong to vulnerable households and, often, that is the reason they opt to be day students.
How do we expect this category to comfortably purchase the long list of items on the prospectus needed for boarding within this short timeframe and within the current context of an excruciating economic pandemic?”