An advocacy organisation, Africa Education Watch (EduWatch), is warning of more teenage girls getting pregnant if they continue to stay at home due to the prolonged closure of schools.
According to EduWatch, a recent study it conducted in 200 schools in the country showed that 20 per cent of girls in those schools were pregnant as a result of the continued closure of schools.
This is quite disturbing and now schools are going to remain closed for the next four months. If the data we have in our research is anything to go by, then we are likely to have more girls not returning to school in January 2021,” the Executive Director of EduWatch, Mr. Kofi Asare, told the Daily Graphic in Accra last Tuesday.
He, therefore, said it was incumbent upon all parents, teachers, the media, and religious bodies to undertake a vigorous campaign to educate girls to take good care of themselves and stay away from sex, as they await the reopening of schools in January 2021.
In his 16th address to the nation last Sunday, the President said the decision had been taken by the GES, after consultations with the relevant stakeholders for SHS and JHS Two students to return to school from October 4 to December 14, 2020, to complete the academic year.
He said, among others, that with JHSs operating with class sizes of 30, and SHSs with class sizes of 25, SHS Two and JHS Two students would be in school for 10 weeks to study and write their end-of-term examination.
He said the GES, after further consultations, had decided to postpone the remainder of the academic year for all nursery, kindergarten, primary, JHS One, and SHS One students, adding that the next academic year would resume in January 2021, with appropriate adjustments made to the curriculum to ensure that nothing was lost from the previous year.
Already, final-year JHS and SHS students are in school. While SHS students are writing the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE), their counterparts in JHS are preparing for the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE).
All schools in the country were closed on March 15 as part of the government’s intervention to stop the further spread of the COVID-19 pandemic after the first case was recorded.
Mr. Asare said the organisation believed that the decision of the government to let JHS and SHS Two students go to school would give the government the opportunity to study the infection trajectory across the world because of re-infections and rise in infection in those places before opening schools fully.
“But the negative effect is that we are extending the period of closure and for that matter, we are deepening the learning loss.
“The learning loss is being deepened further because children in rural areas who do not have access to electricity are still not enjoying the content of GBC’s learning programme on TV and so they are disadvantaged compared to their urban colleagues,” he said.
Mr. Asare said since the reopening of schools for final-year students, the organisation had observed that delay in the supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) to schools had been a problem.
He said, for example, about 47 per cent of the schools sampled by EduWatch received their PPE three days after the reopening of schools.
“The teacher unions have complained a lot and our investigations revealed that because the second tranche of the Capitation Grant has delayed, there was no money to transport PPE to JHSs in the rural areas. The PPE were supplied to the education offices and not the schools and so they (education offices) had to look for money and transport them to the schools,” he said.
To deal with such a situation, Mr. Asare said the government should compel suppliers of PPE to take them directly to schools rather than send them to the education offices, where they were kept for days before delivery due to lack of money and delay in the release of the Capitation Grant.