Primary schools contact hours were reduced in term 1 and nothing seems to compel the GES to review its decisions. The Ghana Education Service (GES) upon resuming schools in January gave a directive that primary schools were to close at 12:00 noon during the first term.
Although pupils have reported for the second term, the GES is yet to revise its directive or update the country on its assessment of the earlier than usual closing time instituted because of Covid-19.
Parents continue to go to work and close late in the day, whiles their children close from school three hours earlier into the second term.
Private schools continue to break this rule but the GES is yet to sanction any school for closing learners in private schools at 3 pm instead of the 12:00 noon directive.
Although the private schools are breaching the directive, their learners are pacing up and bridging the learning loss caused by the nearly 1-year break in school activities because of Covid-19.
Primary schools contact hours extension needed
Sadly, public school pupils continue to close at 12:00 noon and continue to be at the losing end in all this.
The GES needs to be proactive, release its assessment report of the benefits school children derived from the reduced contact hours in term 1.
This will also help them highlight the challenges that were encountered and further explain the cogent reasons why school children in KG1-Basic 6 must continue to officially close at 12 noon instead of 2:45 pm or 3:00 pm.
The government continues to pay teachers’ full salaries, which is good. A return to full school work or one hour increase in the contact hours does not increase the fixed cost of government (salaries) paid. There is the need to examine the 12:00 noon closing time and take the necessary steps.
If schools cannot close at the usual 2:45 pm, it would be prudent, proactive, and forward-looking for the GES and the Ministry of Education to increase the contact hours of KG1 to Basic 6 learners by at least 1 hour. This will afford teachers an extra hour for teaching and learning in our schools.
One additional contact hour will mean learners now close at 1:00 pm instead of 12:0 noon, and that adds 5 more contact hours per week to help teachers and learners recover more lessons.
In the third term, all things held constant, we should see the entire basic school return to full school work and the usual closing time.
It is not too late for the Ghana Education Service to act. The primary schools contact hours need to increase. It is time to consider at least an hour’s extension of contact hours for primary school learners. Let us be proactive now.