What you need to know:
- They do not have adequate infrastructure as well as teaching and learning resources.
- Teachers are insufficient and those in service heavily burdened.
Expand school facilities and hire more teachers
Last week, the government announced that all schools and other educational institutions will reopen fully in January for face-to-face teaching for all learners after a prolonged closure occasioned by Covid-19. However, learning will never be the same.
Schools will be required to enforce strict health protocols such as social distancing, regular and thorough cleanliness, constant hand-washing and use of sanitisers. Moreover, learners, teachers and support staff will be required to put on face masks at all times.
This raises the question: how are the learning institutions being prepared for the reopening? What is being done to ensure they have the facilities and resources to guarantee safety of learners and teachers? What about adequacy of teachers?
Most schools are in poor shape. They do not have adequate infrastructure as well as teaching and learning resources. Teachers are insufficient and those in service heavily burdened. This situation will be magnified several times in January when schools reopen under the Covid-19 containment rules.
Since institutions will be required to keep small classes, it means that classrooms and other facilities will have to be expanded. More teachers have to be recruited. Precisely, the Teachers Service Commission estimates that it requires 12,000 teachers by January to meet the need.
With a few weeks remaining, it is critical for the government to start preparations for the reopening. It should provide funds to schools to expand facilities and acquire utilities such as sanitisers and face masks.
A system has to be established for testing learners and teachers, provision of psycho-social support and emergency services in case of virus infections.
We are calling for proper planning to ensure smooth resumption of learning. Speed is of the essence as the reopening date fast approaches.
It has been a traumatic year for learners who have stayed at home for months and therefore, their journey back to the classroom should be stress-free.