Gambia: School Authorities Urged to Adhere to COVID-19 Preventive Guidelines

Deputy permanent secretary responsible for administration and finance at Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education has urged upper basic school authorities in regions; 2 and 4 to always adhere to the health ministry and WHO guidelines on Covid-19 pandemic.

During his two-day visit to schools in the two regions last week, Jerre Sanyang urged authorities to encourage their teachers and students to follow the health guidelines in this trying time of Covid-19 pandemic.

The visit was meant to observe the turn-out of grade 9 students in class, their sitting arrangements and to know whether schools have enough Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) supply.

According to the Information Officer at MoBSE, grade 9 students in the country resumed their normal classes on Wednesday in preparation for the 2020/21 Gambia Basic Education Certificate Examination (GABECE).

Sanyang stressed the need for school authorities to constantly check the temperature of both teachers and students immediately they enter the school gate before going into their classes.

Mr Sanyang explained to school authorities and students that coronavirus is something real, adding that the reopening of schools for grade 9 classes must go with health protocols. "GABECE will soon be conducted so students need to study hard in order to come out with good result. You have few weeks to sit to your GABECE exam, so ask your colleagues at home to come and attend the classes. All of us are in dilemma because Covid-19 didn't spare high profile persons in the world while it is making thousands of people lost their lives," he said.

He urged students not to see it as offense when their teachers ask them to come to school on Saturdays, saying every school wants to register good results.

According to DPS Sanyang, this academic year is a difficult year for everyone, and advised school authorities to engage all teachers from grades 7-9 for the best interest of the school and the students in particular.

He said his ministry in consultation with stakeholders came out with three options of grade 9 students to repeat, no new intake for grade 9 in 2021/2022 school academic year or reopening of grade 9 classes.

"But we finally come to conclude that grade 9 students will resume their classes and allow students from ECD to Lower Basic schools to move to their next classes because failure to reopen grade 9 classes means we are denying those students at ECD and Lower Basic school levels their right to education," DPS stated.

He said that was the main reason why they decided to reopen grade 9 classes in order to pave the way for other lower classes to move to their new classes comes next school academic year in September 2020.

Authorities of all the visited schools have appealed to the Ministry for more supply of Covid-19 PPEs in their schools especially face masks.

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