The Coronavirus has cast a dark shadow on the educational system of many countries across the globe with Ghana not being an exception. Some educational institutions switched to online learning to ensure pupils/students do not lose out on valuable education. That has however not been enough as many students are not engaged in e-Learning.
Earlier in the year, the UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay warned that “the global scale and speed of the current educational disruption is unparalleled”.
School closure, and the postponing of pre-tertiary institutions such as pre-school, kindergarten, primary, JHS1, and SHS1 in the country will have far-reaching mental and economic consequences.
President Akuffo Addo in his 16th Nation Address made this speech. “The Ghana Education Service, after further consultations, has decided to postpone the remainder of the academic year for all nursery, kindergarten, primary, JHS 1 and SHS 1 students. The next academic year will resume in January 2021, with appropriate adjustments made to the curriculum, to ensure that nothing is lost from the previous year. The relevant dispositions will also be made so that the presence, at the same time, in school of all streams of students, can occur in safety.”
The Economic Impact
School closures until 2021 will have a considerable upfront cost to parents, guardians, and the economy at large. Single parents who are unable to work from home and small business owners will be the hardest hit especially in the case where the children are toddlers.
Such parents by definition will have to stay at home to cater to their children at the expense of productive work which will lead to a downturn in their earnings.
Moreover, small business owners may find difficulty in generating revenue and paying their workers giving their absence from work.
President Akuffo Addo in his 16th address to the nation acknowledged the economic impact the closure of schools till 2021 will have on parents and guardians. “I appreciate fully the inconvenience and the financial burden the continued stay at home of children are posing to parents and guardians” he said.
Teachers and other non-teaching staff, especially those in private institutions may have to look elsewhere to find sources of income as there is going to be a temporary fallout with their current source of income. This is going to be a financial hurdle for some teachers and may add to stress levels or depression.
During this COVID-19 period, the government of Ghana established the Coronavirus Alleviation Programme that has helped quite a several small businesses and individuals meet up their financial obligations which are highly commendable.
More business owners will still require financial relief during this period.
The Mental Impact
Parents and guardians with special needs children such as those with autism will face an extremely harsh circumstance since they lack the resources which are typically found in special needs schools to take care of such children.
Children with special needs typically require structure and a steady routine to feel comfortable. Disruption in the school system may aggravate and frustrate them. This will place a huge responsibility on the neck of parents which may weigh them down. This may lead to an increase in stress levels on the path of parents as they do the best they can for such children.
According to a Psychiatrist at the University of Hong Kong, parents are advised to create a schedule for their children to reduce anxiety induced by uncertainty. He also pointed out that parents must make use of creative ways, such as online speech and social skills training to make up for the loss.
Though the school closures until 2021 will pose a threat to a lot of people, it is better to have these measures imposed than to face a health crisis that will leave a much more devastating impact. After all, prevention is better than cure.