COVID-19 AND THE PLIGHT OF A BECE CANDIDATE
Bridget Ofosua, a 16 year old final year student of the St Anthony Junior High school at Fishpond, a suburb of Accra in the Nii Okaiman municipality, has been anxiously waiting for her turn to take the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) to round up her three year basic education journey. Sadly, however,news of Covid-19 has shattered her plans of completing her basic education just around the same timeher predecessors took their final BECE last year.
The novel coronavirus sweeping across the globe and claiming lives daily has presently become the world’s most targeted enemy, compellingworld leaders to engage in the battle against it. Even though some drugs have shown promise, they are yet to prove effective in combating the virus. Thus, the battle against it, one would say, is the Lord’s.
Bridget lamented, “So what do I do now?All the studies and preparations I have made, awaiting this exam but now see what has happened. Corona is devil sent;it does not want me to finish school. It wants to slow me down.” The poor girl’s lamentation tells how much the pandemic has affected BECE candidates, most of whom cannot wait to have their names printed behind customized T-shirts with captions like “ Fantastic Batch of 2020”, “2020 Class of Excellence”, etc.—a normal practice amongst basic school candidates after writing the final subject of the BECE.
Since Ghana recorded its first case of Covid-19 in March 2020,not a week passes by without updates of new cases being recorded. The case count that now stands at 7,768 has also seen some tremendous recoveries of over 2,540anda total of 35 deaths. Despite the fact that the government of Ghana has instituted measures such as imposing restrictions on movement and social gatherings to curb the spread of the virus, the numbers seem to skyrocket by the week.
Schools Closed Down
One of the key measures taken by government to forestall the spread of the virus includes the closure of schoolsamong others. For about two months and still counting, both continuing and final year students of all educational institutions in Ghana have had to home school, using alternate learning means other than the usual classroom teacher-student interaction. This development according to some parents, has brought untoward hardships on them whilst a section of the student body are also sosick and tired sitting at home without any hope of getting back to school anytime soon.
Up until mid of April 2020, when the Ghana Education Service introduced online learning platforms for public basic schools, both final and continuingstudents had only themselves to rely on in matters concerning their education with some help from parents in certain cases. But as to whether that was effective, Bridget’s explanation below may be a true reflection of the question that may have been posed in many other homes.
“My father is not that learned, though he tries to help me, likewise my Mum, but the experience I have with my tutors in the classroom is never the same as that of my parents. They usually do not have time to always sit with me to guide me on subjects such as Mathematics and Science that I have quite some limitations in understanding certain topics. OnManyoccasions too, Mum will engage me with many house chores from morning till evening; meaning I have little or no time to study. Sometimes I get too tired that I am unable to study the whole day; but if school were in session, at least, I would have had some fair hours of time to study with ready assistance from my tutors and mates.” These were worrying concerns from a BECE candidate who was anticipating completion by June but now has no inkling as to whena new date is going to be set by WAEC for the BECE to take place.
In April 2020, the Ghana Education Service, in a bid to get students engaged, announced an online learning programme where students (in both public and private schools) across the country couldlog on to www.icampusgh.com to access learning materials and interact with teachers. Again, the extremely disturbed Bridget says due to reasons such as lack of data, unavailability of a personal smartphone or computer and unstable internet, sheis unable to access contents on the platform.However, the launch of the traditional learning platforms on TV and radioseem to have brought some relief to Bridget as she applauds GES for the initiative.
Dates for Resumption and BECE
Bridget is hopeful that the Ghana Education Service will soon announce a date for reopening schools. She believes that once that is done, a new date for the exams will follow so she can complete her basic education in peace. Bridget’s humble appeal, however, is that the government and all other stakeholders in education should review our education system so that in times of pandemics or problems of the magnitude of Covid-19, the system can withstand the shock so students will not unduly suffer and that there will be no disruption of the academic calendar like is happening now.
Source: Gideon Adarkwah