It is in order for President Nana Akufo-Addo to provide one hot meal a day for Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) students and school staff during the period of their final exam, the leader of the Coalition of Concerned Teachers, King Ali Awudu has said.
According to him, since food vendors are prevented from school premises as part of measures to curb the spread of COVID-19, the promised intervention by the President was welcome.
Also, Mr Ali Awudu said the gesture deterred pupils from wandering about in search of food, thus, reducing their risk of contracting the pandemic.
Additionally, he said the intervention will help teachers to focus on their task of ensuring the pupils obey the COVID-19 safety protocols.
The President made the announcement in his 15th COVID-19 address to the nation on Sunday, 16 August 2020. He said: “Our phased approach toward returning our lives to normal, through the strategic, controlled, progressive, and safe easing of restrictions, will, thus, continue”.
“Most final-year university students have already completed their examinations, and, by 18th September, SHS 3 and JHS 3 students would have finished their respective final examinations of WASSCE and BECE.
“As a result of reports I have recently received that some final-year JHS students were going hungry, in complying with COVID-19 protocols, I have just instructed the Minister of Gender, Child and Social Protection to begin preparations to ensure that from 24th August up to 18th September, all five hundred and eighty-four thousand (584,000) final-year JHS students, and one hundred and forty-six thousand (146,000) staff, both in public and private schools, be given one hot meal a day”, the President said.
“This is to ensure full observance of the COVID-19 safety protocols”, he explained.
The President also noted that: “Through online learning portals, almost all continuing students in our Universities have completed their studies for the academic year”.
The exceptions, he listed, are the University of Cape Coast, the University of Health and Allied Sciences, Technical Universities, and some other Colleges.
“After extensive stakeholder consultations, the decision has been taken for continuing students in these tertiary institutions to return to school on 24th August, to finish their academic year”, Nana Akufo-Addo said.
He noted that “just as was done for final year students who returned to school, the government, through the Ministry of Education and the Ghana Education Service, will ensure that all these tertiary institutions are disinfected”.
“Universities will be equipped with the necessary personal protective equipment, and those with their own hospitals and clinics will have isolation centres to deal with any positive cases”, he added.
The President said all other institutions without their own clinics and hospitals, will be mapped to health facilities.
“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”, he directed.
Still within the education sector, the President said the Ministry of Education continues to engage the Ghana Education Service (GES) and all relevant stakeholders to conclude discussions on the modalities surrounding the reopening of our pre-tertiary schools.
“I will communicate, in due course, the decisions that will be reached from these consultations”, he noted, adding: “You can be rest assured that I will always take into prime consideration the safety and wellbeing of our children, teachers and non-teaching staff in the decisions that will be taken, because I am determined to ensure that the education of our children is not unduly disturbed by this pandemic”.