The Ghana National Education Campaign Coalition (GNECC), a network of civil society organisation, has launched a drive aimed at improving retention rates in basic schools amid the Corona Virus Disease (COVID-19).
The campaign, to be implemented in 70 public and private schools across 35 districts in six regions, seeks to motivate school children to report to school authorities or their parents and guardians whenever they fell sick or experience abnormal feelings in their bodies.
Beneficiary regions comprise Greater Accra, Eastern, Western, Bono, Central, Volta and Ashanti Regions.
“The campaign is a sub-component of the UNESCO-funded project dubbed: “Promoting Effective Teaching and Learning at the Pre-Tertiary Level for All Children in Ghana in the COVID-19 Era,” Mr Raphael Godlove Ahenu, the Bono Regional Coordinator of the GNECC, stated.
Speaking at a short ceremony held at the Fiapre Methodist A and B basic schools in the Sunyani West Municipality, Mr Ahenu noted the COVID-19 pandemic had a greater impact on marginalised and vulnerable groups, including school children, hence the need to promote a safe school environment to protect them.
There is, therefore, a need to engage school children who are at a greater risk of dropping out of school and provide them with psycho-social support amid the COVID-19.
Mr Ahenu explained the campaign, which would involve extensive school outreaches, sought to promote a safe and secure school environment for children and teachers in schools, homes and the communities.
Community-based volunteers and monitors have already been trained, and they would ensure that basic schools in the project implementing communities complied with COVID-19 safety protocols as recommended by the World Health Organization and the Ghana Health Service.
This would greatly guarantee the safety of school children and teachers, he said, adding the monitors would also ensure there were improved hygienic practices in schools.
These include the provision of a regular supply of water, availability of detergents, Veronica Buckets, hand sanitisers, and tissue papers, among other safety materials.
He said beneficiary schools in the region were the Fiapre Methodist Basic Schools ‘A’ and ‘B’ and Golden Intellectuals School in Sunyani West Municipality, Wamfie Anglican Junior High School and Hope Preparatory and Junior High School in the Dormaa East District, and Biadan St. John’s Junior High School and Berekum R/C Mixed Primary School in the Berekum Municipality.
Others included the Ebenezer Presby Preparatory and JSS as well as the Boahen Korkor Presby JSS ‘A’ in the Sunyani Municipality.
Mr Ahenu underlined the need for parents and teachers to monitor and ensure that school children always wear nose masks and washed their hands regularly with soap under running water to protect them from contracting the COVID-19.
“There is still misinformation about the disease and the vaccines and to help curb the negative effects of misinformation and rumours about vaccines, the Ghana Health Service must partner with stakeholders to intensify public education,” he said, adding the GNECC had so far sensitized more than 2,500 school children and teachers on the pandemic.
Mr Martin Djan, a community-based volunteer, commended the government for providing basic schools with alcohol-based hand sanitisers, soaps, tissue papers and nose masks and expressed the hope that school authorities would ensure students and teachers adhere strictly to the health and safety protocols to prevent the spread of the COVID-19.