Ghana: COVID -19 Distance Learning Platform for Children Not Effective - CRI

(file photo).
19 November 2020

This was the title of the story of our reporters, Jemima Esinam Kuatsinu and Gloria Nsiah Mintah, which we curried on page 4 of our Wednesday, November 18, 2020 edition.

According to the story, about 3,967 out of 4,458 school children surveyed across the country said the distance learning platforms provided as alternatives to the in-person, in-classroom traditional teaching and learning, following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic here, had not been effective. This was the outcome of the research conducted by Child Rights International, reported Jemima and Gloria.

According to Child Rights International, the digital platforms for education only reached five per cent of children in the Bono, Ahafo, Ashanti, Western and Eastern regions, while the radio and television coverage reached 32 per cent of the children covered by the survey which Child Rights conducted from March 11, 2020 to November 9, 2020, under the banner, "COVID-19: State of the Children in Ghana", and lunched in Accra on Tuesday, November 17, 2020.

The survey is said to have been conducted in 589 small communities, towns and cities, with 4,458 children sampled, and additional information solicited from the nationwide data on COVID-19, as provided by the Ghana Health Service. It could, therefore, be said to be broad-based, to some extent, and premised on reliable data.

We of the Ghanaian Times are not so much taken aback by the findings, since we know the problems faced by the rural communities, towns and the cities of the country; we are aware of the depravity which characterises the peri-urban areas, and those on the fringe society. We wonder how many of the homes in such areas own the digital media - television and radio sets - through which the lessons are delivered, and are aware of the time(s) scheduled for them, so as to make them sit at home and listen to these programmes.

We again wonder whether most children would understand the medium of instruction primarily and basically in English, of which, we dare say, children's knowledge and comprehension is abysmally low, in very many instances. Even with the in-person delivery in the normal school setting, children are at sea, as they find it not easy to understand the delivery; how much more in their various homes, where both the environment and setting have not so much been purposely created for learning?

The Ghanaian Times would not put the lapses solely on parents as denied by the children in story.

We all do know that even during the period when things were normal, children were playing truancy; some of them roaming and loafing around, while others behaved as if noting was at stake in their lives. The COVID has rather given them the licence and leeway to laze about, with the digital gadgets in their homes rather turning their attention to watching cartoons, wrestling and movies which don't add anything profitable to their lives, now and in the future. So why (do they) blame parents? How many of them listen to exhortations from (their) parents to spend some time on their books? Rather than find fault with (their) parents, they should blame themselves for their apathy and complacency towards all that are academically profitable.

Children may be performing activities for (their) parents, but we dare ask, "how excessive?," as they complain. They should help (their) parents with (their) normal chores and duties, so as to alleviate them of some of the burdens they carry and not look on unconcerned, as (their) parents sweat it to ensure they have some food to eat, to keep body and soul going.

The Times, however, cautions parents not to make (the) children beasts of burden, but seek their assistance where necessary, respecting their rights to health and well-being.

The Times wishes to opine that teaching and learning should not remain conservative as have been over the ages, with the lessons taught society by the COVID.

COVID has shattered, devastated and brought society and all within it to its knees. We, therefore, have to rethink, diversify and re-strategise our approaches to everything, including education.

We should commit ourselves to the education-in-crisis alternatives, and learn how to educate our children, using the contemporary modes of delivery. Who knows what next could devour the world and make nonsense of all we stand for? We should think ahead and move with the times, so as not to be caught on the wrong foot, should any crisis befall us again.

The Ghanaian Times is happy with the findings of the survey; let all who have ears and have Ghanaian children at heart heart, take the suggestions offered seriously, and put things in the right perspective for the good of our children, now and in the future.

We commend Child Rights International for a very good and insightful work done.

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