Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs)have been urged to embark on infrastructural development to provide enough classrooms and space to ensure physical distancing in the classrooms.
MMDAs have also been urged to shift from the production of dual desks to providing mono desks to all schools to ensure physical distancing in schools.
This was contained in a communique issued in Tamale on Monday by the Northern Regional School Management Committees (SMC Network), Northern Regional Coordinating Council (NRCC) and the Northern Regional Directorate of Ghana Education Service (GES) in partnership with CHOICE GHANA and Centre for Active Learning and Integrated Development (CALID), both non-governmental organisations.
It was jointly signed by Alhaji Abdul Karim Adam, Northern Regional Development Planning Director, Mr Isaac Ouadrado, Secretary, SMC Network, Mr Adjei Kadiri, Programmes Coordinator of CHOICE GHANA, and Mr Mohammed Awal Sumani Bapio, Executive Director of CALID.
The communique was the outcome of a citizens’ dialogue conference on education delivery held in Tamale on July 08, which discussed re-opening of schools in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond in the Northern Region.
The goal of the dialogue was to contribute to the idea-basket towards re-opening of schools, coming from the parents’ perspectives as well as outline practical ideas that could inform public policy decisions for the safety of schools beyond COVID-19.
Key issues discussed during the dialogue included; E-learning platforms, school infrastructure, Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) situation at schools, insufficient and untimely supply of personal protective equipment to schools, Electoral Commission using school environment for voter registration, early warning and early detection of COVID-19, and functionality of Municipal and District Education Oversight Committees (DEOCs/MEOCs).
The communique called on government and MMDAs to take steps to extend the free water supply initiative to all schools for the period of the COVID-19 pandemic.
It said “there is need for schools to prepare in advance for WASH facilities as they were key to keeping the children safe” and suggested that government provided sanitary facilities such as toilets, veronica buckets and soap for hand washing to all schools.
It called on the GES to take necessary steps to resolve issues regarding access to the supervision fund by all districts within the region to improve on monitoring and supervision of schools.
It said “teachers and students should be trained on COVID-19 issues for early detection and response” adding “GES should put in place student COVID-19 response teams to support teachers in the implementation of the protocols to keep all safe.”
The communique said the NRCC would impress on all MMDAs to budget for DEOC/MEOC meetings, adding “MMDAs and District Education Offices should help mobilise SMCs into networks across all districts to give them the leverage to participate in the management of education in the districts.”
It called on “SMC Networks to create awareness and sensitise communities on e-learning platforms as well as the introduction of the worksheets system to support children’s continuous learning at home.”
It further called on government to prioritize learning platforms that included; all children, irrespective of the location and social class, saying “The introduction of worksheets for kindergarten to basic three by government is commendable.”
It said “Given the peculiar nature of the Northern Regions, we request the MMDAs and the GES to collaborate and introduce these worksheets across all stages of basic school level to get all children participate in the continuous learning.”