Deputy Ranking Member of Parliament's Committee on Education, Dr Clement Apaak

Deputy Ranking Member of Parliament’s Committee on Education, Dr. Clement Apaak has cautioned the Ministry of Education and the Ghana Education Service (GES) against taking any decision on the possible reopening of schools without consensus from parents and the various teacher unions.

GES, since issuing a letter dated May 13, 2020, and signed by Director-General, Kwasi Opoku–Amankwa urged all stakeholders including leadership of teacher bodies to contribute their ideas on how schools can ensure there is safety and maximum security if pupils are allowed to come back; have received massive backlash.

Many organisations including the teacher unions have condemned the initiative, alleging that GES was launching the consultation for a possible reopening of all basic schools in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

The teacher unions, together with the Africa Education Watch argue that, the lives of teachers, students and staff will be put at risk due to the high number of covid-19 infections associated with community spread.

Backing the stance of these associations during an interaction with JoyNews’ Roland Walker on the AM Show, Mr. Apaak said, government can only consider reopening schools when best protocols and measures have been adopted to protect people and avoid further spread of the virus.

“I believe very strongly that if you look at the dynamics that we are dealing with currently and you factor in the major architecture and systems that we have as far as our public school system is concerned and the lack of adequate information, it makes it very difficult for any teacher who cares about students, or any parent who cares about his ward to say that schools should reopen.

“We have not seen anything concrete being done to ensure that when schools are indeed reopened whiles we are still contending with this pandemic, we will not turn out exposing teachers, students and non-working staff to the coronavirus,” he said

With Ghana confirming 6,096 cases of the coronavirus with 1,773 recoveries and 31 deaths, the ban on social gathering across the country and the compulsory wearing of face masks remain in full force.

Joining the debate on whether schools should be reopened or not, Members of Parliament for Tamale Central, Inusah Fuseini  said with the country’s current health system, the reopening of schools is not advisable.

“Countries are opening up, but some have been forced to shut down again. Why people are worried is because the World Health Organization has also warned that African countries have weak health systems.

“This means if we have weak health systems and we are hit by the full force of the pandemic the impact will be disastrous. Due to this, for African countries, prevention is better than cure.”

On his part, MP for Mpraeso, Seth Acheampong said any decision by government will be made in consultation with all stakeholders.

He tells JoyNews’ Roland Walker that gradual easing of restrictions has become inevitable since life has to return to some form of normalcy.

“It’s all about sharing of ideas. Nobody is sitting anywhere with decisions cast in stone. Its still a conversation. We have to understand the managers as well.

“If we understand the economy we live in today, we are not isolated. Day in day out we are maturing, time is passing us by. Nobody is discarding the concerns of the teacher unions.

“We all want measures that will help us ensure safety for our people. Nobody will rush to throw teachers and children back in school. We must remember that the people who take decisions also have children and because of that every decision taken is well thought through.”