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Saturday, February 4, 2023

COVID-19: Is E-learning for underprivilleged pupils?

As the novel Coronavirus continues to wreak havoc in all sectors of existence including education across the globe with Ghana not an exception, some parents have opted to keep their children in the farm as a protective strategy.

While the elites and the haves have engaged their wards at home by ensuring they have access to devices that keep them busy as they spend their entire day behind closed doors as means of protection, the story is not same for children of parents who have no education and the do not haves in Tamale in the Northern region.

In the heart of the Gumbihini forest reserve, while on an assignment, www.zamireports.com caught up with Mohammed Issah, a peasant farmer and his children on their maize farm.

To protect his children Abdul-Basit, 14, Abdul-Majeed, 10, and Adam, 4, safe from infections, Mohammed Issah takes them to the farm.

Adam busy practising weeding. Buta Photography for www.zamireports.com

“I keep them here as a means of protecting them, schools were closed down so parents will keep their children home to prevent them from contracting the virus but in my community Gumbihini, children are on the streets playing in groups”.

“While they’re here, I get to control them which is how I protect both my children and myself”, he said.

On the farm, the senior siblings supported their father to clear weeds, harvest vegetables, and maize, and prepared the field for planting “.

Abdul-Basit preparing his father’s farm for another planting season after a previous harvesting. Buta Photography for www.zamireports.com

A few distance from their farm was Zaid Sulemana,8, and his friend, “the shepherds”. They were returning from the grazing side with a flock of sheep under their care.


Zaid Sulemana returning from grazing with the flock. Buta Photography for www.zamireports.com

“I take the sheep for grazing at the other side of the forest when we come to the farm”, said Zaid in Dagbani.

E-Learning Platforms.

The Ghana Education Service (GES) and the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC) in April this year launched an E-learning platform, Ghana Learning on television following the closure of schools in March by the President of the Republic Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo due to the Covid-19 pandemic, among measures by government to control the spread of the virus.

The novel Corona virus has killed some one hundred and twenty nine (129) persons and infected some twenty three thousand, four hundred and sixty three (23,463) persons across the country .

The Ministry of Education and the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC) collaboration programme is to keep students in learning mode while they stay at home. GBC under the agreement is suppose to broadcast content produced by the GES in Science, Social Studies, Mathematics, and English for basic school students.

Though the free-to-air 24-hour channel has  since April 10 aired on GTV and subsequently began airing on digi box days later, the basic six pupil of the Flourish Academy in Tamale, Abdul-Basit and his siblings had no idea of such platform.

“I am not aware of such platforms, I don’t get GTV’s free-to-air channel on my television set and I don’t have a digital box either”, a clueless Mohammed Issah revealed.

Abdul-Basit should have ten lessons in five days from 01:15 – 01:50 PM and 06:30-07:05 PM, a total of thirty five minutes for the Mathematics, English Language, Science, and Social Studies subjects but that is not the case.

Issah’s first son, his name sake Mohammed Issah, 19 and a  form three business student of the (3) at the Business Senior High School in Tamale who was back in school at the time of filing this report never studied while at home, I gathered.

“Mohammed Issah never followed the television teaching while he was at home”.

Per the timetable by the Ghana Education Service, Mohammed Issah should have a 45 minutes lesson per subject from Monday to Friday each week making it a total of two hundred and twenty five minutes contact per a subject in five days.

“They have their books here which they sit under the tree and read”, Mohammed Issah snr intonated when asked how the children are keeping up with academic work.

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals indicator 4.1 enjoins Countries to;
“By 2030, ensure that all girls and boys complete free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education leading to relevant and effective learning outcomes”.

But with the current case count of one hundred and sixty three and eight deaths in the Northern region, the absence of GTV’s free-to-air channel on his television set, and his inability to puchase a digital box, Mohammed Issah snr, will keep his three younger children close to himself in the farm.

Clearly, these siblings will never get to catch up with their peers in academics due to inequalities which trickles down to Ghana’s achievement of the SDGs by 2030.

Zubaida Afua Mmabuno Ismail|www.zamireports.com|Tamale.

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