Mr. Stephen Ofosu Darfour, a child rights activist, has called on the government to adopt a systematic approach towards re-opening of schools in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
He said there should be clear laid down rules and regulations regarding how schools should be re-opened and operated, with focus on strict compliance to the existing preventive protocols instituted by the government to contain the spread of the virus in the country.
Mr Ofosu Darfour, who is the Ashanti Regional Director, In-charge of Child Protection, at the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, told the Ghana News Agency in an interview in Kumasi that, there should be clear cut guidelines, if schools were made to re-open.
Ghana ranks as one of the countries in the sub-Saharan Africa to have recorded more confirmed cases of the pandemic, logging a total of 6,486 confirmed cases with 31 deaths, as at Friday, May 22 this year.
For about two months now, all schools in the country have remained closed as part of the government’s strategy to mitigate the spread of the pandemic.
However, a section of the populace, including some educationists and opinion leaders, are arguing for the reopening of schools, saying the situation could be contained given the right measures in place.
But Mr. Ofosu Darfour, says teachers may find it difficult to control and protect children, especially those at the primary stages, should the schools reopen without effective preventive protocols in place.
“We must properly spell out the roadmap for reopening schools in a manner that would not compromise on the health and safety of the child.
“Some pertinent issues relating to how social distancing could be observed, as well as the maintenance of personal hygiene and avoiding an overcrowded class, all needs to be taken into consideration,” he pointed out.
Mr. Ofosu Darfour pointed out that the current term was almost ending per the Ghanaian academic calendar, and suggested to the government to suspend academic work until September 2020, when a new academic year would begin.
Notwithstanding, the government could also make provision to allow for final year students in the Junior High and Senior High Schools to write their certificate examinations.
Mr. Ofosu Darfuor called on the citizenry to exercise restraint as government took pragmatic decisions that would inure to the benefit of all stakeholders as far as reopening of schools in the country was concerned.
In a related development, Madam Aba Oppong, also a child rights activist, sharing her views on the issue, said it would be wrong for authorities to rush into reopening of schools.
She cited the case of France, whose decision to reopen schools triggered the spread of the pandemic, recording about 70 COVID-19 positive cases amongst children in just some few days.
“Nobody has control over the virus. We should, therefore, continue to act with care, while protecting the lives of Ghanaian children,” she told the GNA.