How can GES best support students?
Welcome to our weekly blog for Teacher Tapp Ghana!
Every Monday we summarize our most surprising and interesting survey findings from the week before. This weekly blog provides an easy way for you to learn about the experiences and opinions of teachers across Ghana.
Please encourage your colleagues to use the Teacher Tapp app to keep engaged with education even when they’re not teaching. Your responses are also a vital data source that will guide decision-making around best policies and approaches for enhancing the welfare of educators/teachers and ensuring robust educational sector management.
Many more teachers will like to be heard and this can be done through Teacher Tapp. Do share this blog with your colleagues
1. Your favourite back-to-school interventions…
This week an enormous 90% of you told us that you’re concerned about how school closures are affecting educational inequality in Ghana. But what can be done top stop the increase of these inequalities?
We asked you this question and the most popular selections are ‘Free additional online classes for target students’ and ‘Government funding for laptops/devices’. Summer catch up schools were also a popular selection.
The two most popular selections show a clear preference for technology-based solutions, which has been a general theme in your responses over the past few months. One issue with technological solutions is that they frequently require large infrastructure developments to work – for example, increasing the number of students who are using devices to access the internet (especially live online classes) would massively increase strain on local telecom networks.
In contrast, solutions that aren’t based on digital technology (such as food boxes and stationery delivery) can be easier to implement and can often more effectively get to the root cause of the issues driving inequality.
Vulnerable students will also likely lack the technological capital to gain a large amount from online schooling. As such, perhaps one of the most effective interventions for these students would be an early return to school where they could receive and benefit from focused support from their usual class teacher. As such, we were quite surprised it ranked low on your preferred programmed!
2 . Support for free data is building…
We’ve commented previously about how advances in the availability of online schooling will not help poorer students unless accompanied by free internet access.
We asked you how you’d feel about a policy that made such provision and support was largely positive – 81% of you stated you would support such a programme for all students.
Some information has been circulated in the past week that suggests that particular educational websites will have a zero-charge attached to them, meaning anyone with a device and internet connectivity will be able to access them for free.
Of course, our question specified that students would be given free access to the whole internet. Some teachers may be concerned that this would actually increase the number of non-educational distractions students are exposed to, reducing the amount of school work that they complete.
Equally, teachers may worry that internet access isn’t enough – especially if students don’t have devices that give them internet access in the first place!
3 . School fumigation – a step too far?
Earlier on in the month, GES announced that all state schools in Ghana would be subject to a mandatory fumigation.
The aim of this fumigation seems to be the elimination of any trace of the COVID-19 virus. Similar plans were enacted for other vacant public spaces.
We had some questions about this strategy from the government, as most international health guidance and research has emphasised that the COVID-19 virus can only survive for a few hours without a human host. By consequence, it seems very unlikely that any residual virus would be left in buildings or spaces that have been empty for weeks.
On top of this, mass fumigation is likely quite an expensive programme to operate. As such, we weren’t convinced of the value of the idea.
It seems that many of you also shared our concerns, with 1-in-2 respondents telling us they don’t believe fumigation is an effective example of infection control.
Nonetheless, there was still 43% support from our respondents. Perhaps these users were thinking that, with any virus where knowledge is limited, it is best to exercise as much caution as possible. No doubt many of our users have the legacy of Ebola in mind, which will encourage high degrees of caution.