By Fr. Benedict Mayaki, SJ
The Catholic education authority in Ghana has commended government efforts in launching a virtual television learning program dedicated to continuing the education of students who are homebound due to the Covid-19 outbreak.
In April, the Ghanaian Government announced plans for the creation of a 24-hour educational channel called Ghana Learning TV. The content is tailored for students at the kindergarten, primary, Junior High and Senior High levels. It can be accessed on DSTV 312, GoTV 150 and Startimes 312.
Ghana Learning TV officially began to broadcast on 6 May after a timetable was released by the Ghana Education Service (GES). Lessons in Mathematics, Science, English and Social Studies will be taught in 45-minute slots from Monday to Friday.
The General Manager of Catholic schools at the National Catholic Secretariat (NCS), Mrs. Doris Ashun, on Friday, welcomed the initiative as “beneficial to Catholic students.” She added that the e-learning and television learning programs “are good opportunities for every student in Catholic schools to take advantage of while at home.”
Covid-19 and education in Ghana
The education official lamented that coronavirus precautionary measures has affected education not just in Ghana but also globally. She pointed out that the second term of the academic year in Catholic schools was nearing completion when all schools had to be closed. She also explained that the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) and the West African Senior Secondary Certificate Examination (WASSCE) have been indefinitely postponed.
Concern for those who will be left behind
Mrs. Ashun encouraged parents and guardians to journey with their children as they attend the virtual classes. She advised that even if they are not able to supervise their children, “parents should make sure children draw up a study timetable which would be observed to the letter.”
However, she expressed her concern for students who would not be able to benefit fully from the initiative. She pointed out that “the challenge here would be for those students living in areas without electricity, or poor or no network, and those who do not have access to laptops, phones or TVs.”
Salaries for staff of Catholic Schools
As regards the payment of teaching and non-teaching staff in Ghanaian Catholic-run schools, Mrs. Ashun said that school managers have the responsibility of coming to an agreement with staff on how much the schools can afford to pay during this period.
She explained that “there are some fears of the smaller private schools having serious challenges of laying off staff or paying reduced salaries to their workers.” This is mostly due to the fact that “most parents make full payments of fees when it is time to write end of term examinations.” This makes schools “handicapped in paying full salaries for the number of months the schools remain closed.”
The Ghanaian government closed down schools in the country on 16 March as part of coronavirus precautionary measures. As of Monday morning, Ghana reportedly has 4,700 confirmed cases, 22 deaths and 494 recovered patients.