President Nana Akufo-Addo has said Ghana cannot put education, health and issues of social justice on hold just because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Announcing the resumption of school for final-year students of the universities, the President said in his eleventh televised address to the nation on Sunday, 14 June 2020 that: “From tomorrow, Monday, 15 June 2020, the last batch of institutions in this phased approach, our educational institutions, will begin to re-open, with final-year students in our tertiary colleges and universities returning to school to prepare for and take their exit examinations”.
“As has been stated, final-year senior high school (SHS 3) students, together with SHS 2 Gold Track students, will resume on 22nd June; and final-year junior high school (JHS 3) students, the week after, on 29 June”, the President said.
According to the President, “The decision to include our schools in phase one of the easing of restrictions was taken advisedly”.
“Some argue that we are putting the lives of our students, teachers and non-teaching staff in danger by this re-opening, citing the examples of other countries, who have done so and recorded spikes in their infection case counts”.
“I have stated, on several occasions, that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to the resolution of this pandemic”.
“We have our own unique situation in the country, and we have always taken that it into account in dealing with this disease, much as we are prepared to learn from the examples of others”, he said.
President Akufo-Addo noted that “over the last three (3) months, every aspect of our national life has been affected by this virus”, noting: “We have had to take deliberate steps to ensure that our society, in the face of the pandemic, is able to function, and continues to strive to deliver the results of progress, prosperity and development, for which we all yearn”.
“Saving lives, jobs and livelihoods, revitalising our economy, and safeguarding the future of our country have been at the heart of this endeavour”, adding: “We cannot say that because of the pandemic, we are no longer interested in issues of social justice such as education and health”.
Education, the President said, “indeed, is the key to the future of our country”.
“The quality of education that our educational institutions produce, ultimately”, he noted, “will determine the success or otherwise of our nation”.
“We, therefore, have to find a way of guaranteeing the prospects of the generation of young people who are the objects of education today, and who represent our future”.
“We have to do everything within our power to protect their potential, and, thereby, help preserve our future”.
“We cannot afford to let the pandemic undermine our chances for survival and progress. We have to confront our present and future with confidence, knowing fully well that we must remain, at all times, vigilant and careful”.
“So, from tomorrow, operating with half the class size, final-year students will begin a six-week period of learning to finish their respective programmes. Subsequently, for a period of four weeks, they will sit for their exit examinations. It must be put on record that some final-year university students will not be returning to school, as some of them, through virtual means, have already sat their exit examinations”, he announced.
Prior to their return to school, the government, through the Ministry of Education and the Ghana Education Service, has ensured that all tertiary institutions, public and private, have been disinfected.
Universities, with their own hospitals and clinics, have been equipped with the necessary personal protective equipment, and have isolation centres to deal with any positive cases, the President noted.
“All other institutions, without their own clinics and hospitals, have been mapped to health facilities”, he said.
He, however, said: “There will be no mass gatherings and no sporting activities. Religious activities, under the new protocols, will be permitted. Social-distancing and the wearing of face masks must become the norm on campus”.
“To aid in this effort, a total of six hundred thousand (600,000) face masks has been distributed to the tertiary institutions. This is to enable every student, teaching and non-teaching staff to have three (3) reusable face masks. In addition to this, one thousand seven hundred (1,700) Veronica buckets, two hundred thousand (200,000) litres of hand sanitisers, three thousand, four hundred (3,400) litres of liquid soap, and nine hundred (900) thermometer guns have been distributed, with the transportation and delivery of these items being overseen by the special logistics team of the Government Committee, chaired by the sagacious, experienced politician, the Senior Minister, Hon. Yaw Osafo Maafo, that is supervising the re-opening of the schools”.
He also said: “I met with the Vice-Chancellors of the universities, both public and private, last Tuesday, who pledged that they would co-operate to ensure that this exercise is effectively undertaken, and I thank them very much for their co-operation. Our intention is to secure the lives of the nearly two hundred thousand (200,000) students, lecturers and non-teaching staff, who will be returning to campus from tomorrow, and I appeal to them also to do their bit to help us succeed. I urge them to adhere to enhanced personal hygiene and social distancing protocols, wash their hands with soap under running water, refrain from shaking hands, and wear their masks to, in and from the lecture halls, and on the campus, generally”.