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An early morning headache courtesy Napo

Dr Matthew Opoku Prempeh, Education Minister   NAPO Dr. Matthew Opoku Prempeh

Fri, 10 Jul 2020 Source: Isaac Ato Mensah

Dr. Matthew Opoku Prempeh aka Napo, Ghana’s Minister for Education (MOE) is a Medical Doctor.

Now, the last place you would expect to hear dodgy logic is from the MOE and certainly not from the presiding Minister.

But all is lost since that is precisely what happened during Napo’s interview on Peace FM today 9 July thus giving any discerning listener a violent headache.

Kwami Sefa Kayi, the host concluded from Napo’s own argument during the Twi interview: “So then some have said, we should close down the schools, what do you think about it?”

Napo replied: “So should we not go to work again? Who should work and pay the teacher?”

He went on to say that WAEC had set the date for the exam so we cannot decline participation while emphasising that WAEC is not under his administration.

He gave convoluted details about someone who drank and used the neem tree potion yet got COVID-19.

He recounted other persons who had suffered the infection three separate times etc, etc; so life must go on he concluded.

It was not surprising that the host Sefa Kayi – the “astute” journalist, was pliant and supine and allowed Napo latitude with his far flung anecdotes and assertions.

To his credit, Napo recommended that we should all obey the experts and observe social distancing.

But when the experts suggested a lockdown, he never uttered a word publicly against apparatchiks who promoted “social science” and worked to reverse the lockdown after an ineffective three weeks.

Napo asked his host: “Are the boarding schools rather not the best place to isolate students?”

Really? Pinch me!

Our children are kept in a boarding house with insanitary conditions with erratic water supply and students’ relatives visiting frequently.

How about day students who come in daily from home?

And the teachers who stay outside the boarding facilities?

Clearly, this is hard to justify with science let alone plain intuition.

There were more outlandish remarks. Napo and his host agreed that there are countries that have reimposed lockdown therefore we cannot help the situation.

Early in the interview Napo said, “We are praying that God will grant the knowledge and gift to some people so that whether vaccine or immunisation they will bring it to us”.

Now, let us all think through this together.

To begin with; those countries who are reimposing lockdown, is that not evidence that a lockdown works?

Next, it is important to have serious independent-minded persons to spar with on logic; this is indispensable for sharpening our thoughts and making our ideas coherent.

Three, when those countries which imposed lockdown flattened the curve, what does that data tell us?

Four, so our government cannot pay teachers for 12 weeks when they are sitting at home; how about salaries paid during prior school holidays?

Five, if we really were transferring money to the secondary schools under free SHS, it is highly unlikely that you will want to populate the schools at this time of declining tax revenues, isn’t it?

Six, how can the Junior High School Form Three students who are not in boarding houses have that ideal isolation alluded to?

Seven, now that the Minister has admitted that the government is not following the science and data, should all of us – individuals and institutions – take our separate paths, how will we govern this nation?

Eight, Ghana is a subscribing member of WAEC; what happened to our right to write to WAEC explaining why our students cannot safely participate at this time?

Of course, the questions are by no means exhaustive, but like my mentor, my tolerance level for “wrapping my head around such effusions” has gone very low.

Respectfully, our leaders should be surrounding themselves with persons who are experienced and accomplished with nothing to lose; persons who are trained to and willing to think logically at all times.

We are not surprised that a hyped-up early morning interview in today’s ghana with the Minister for Education does not educate anybody.

As my mentor has observed, “Everywhere you turn, they are there, the Dunning-Kruger types; they will get us all killed”.

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Columnist: Isaac Ato Mensah