The Management of Noegenics Education Group has called for the annulment of the current 2019/2020 academic year and all students made to have a fresh start in September 2020, by repeating their current year and class.The Group said its reasons might sound strange but it was a notable fact that a child's absence from school experience had a significant impact on their future successes and life chances.
A statement issued in Accra and signed by Mr Grrant Bulmuo, Lead Consultant at Neogenics Education Group, said research shows that eight days of absence from school reduces a child’s best chance of success by four per cent, 19 days by 10 per cent, 29 days by 15 per cent, 38 days by 20 per cent and 48 days by 25 per cent.
The statement issued was in connection with the proposal for schools to reopen amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
It said before schools are asked to re-open, the Group would want to know, if stakeholders knew if parents would want to send their children back to school soon due to health concerns.
The Group would also want to know whether 'we know if teachers are prepared to put their lives on the line and how many children may be held back and enrolled into their family workforce to sell and support their parents due to Covid-19 financial loss'.
The statement went on to ask if stakeholders knew how many pupils really wanted to return to school as a result of disinterest in education altogether due to the lack of engagement by their schools.
"Historically, we are told that after pandemics girls are unlikely to return to school for various reasons and what measures are in place to avoid possible local/national viral resurgence," it added.
It inquired if stakeholders knew how many teachers and school staff had adequately been trained and resourced to identify and manage symptoms of Covid-19, stigmas and Corona Virus related anxieties suffered by children.
The statement asked how many schools (especially boarding schools) were Post-Pandemic ready with capabilities and systems to start welcoming pupils.
It also wanted to know if each school had enough statistical data to know how many teachers and pupils had been exposed to carriers of the virus or were asymptomatic and to what extent would the commuting of children to and from school impact on public health.
"What are the options and alternatives for Head Teachers, who might receive absence notices from staff claiming they are experiencing mild symptoms of Covid-19 and will want to self-isolate,” the statement asked.
It said until the quality of responses to the above questions met national expectation, the Group would not advise the government to re-open schools.
It said children by end of May 2020 would have been absent from active learning for almost 50 schools days and majority of these children may hardly remember any of the learning they experienced in school from September 2019.
The statement, therefore, said government should engage all teachers in both Private and Public schools in a mass National ICT education drive by taking advantage of the increased national interest in ICT to equip parents, teachers and children across the country.
It said this would offer everyone with the minimum ICT skills needed for the education system to thrive and leapfrog to Global standards.
"This is the time to do this! There is no better time than this. It is a golden opportunity to roll out a national ICT strategy before September 2020 academic year and hopefully by then COVID-19 will have been substantially subdued and cease to be a threat to our lives," it said.
Elsewhere, the re-opening of schools has rather led to unexpected outcomes.
In France, about 70 COVID-19 cases have been linked to schools after one-third of children recently went back to school.