The Catholic Archbishop of Accra, Most Rev. John Bonaventure Kwofie, has called for the suspension of this year’s final examinations to be conducted by the West African Examination Council ( WAEC).
His call was at the backdrop of the escalating number of recorded positive cases of the novel coronavirus in the Senior High Schools (SHS).
The Archbishop said the suspension of the 2020 West African Secondary School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) and the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) will prevent the further spread of the virus particularly among students.
The call by the Archbishop, who is in charge of education for the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference, comes at a time parents are agitating after some students of the Accra Girls Senior High School among others tested positive for COVID-19.
In an interview with Newswatchgh.com on Sunday, July 12, the Archbishop said though it is important for students to prepare for their final exams, concerns of COVID-19 should force a radical move from government to suspend the exams until further notice.
The Archbishop in expressing his worry described the development as a tragedy.
”I am worried. We would not want to subject the children to a situation like this. But if they don’t go to school to prepare, there will be another problem. We are caught between two waters. I think this is an occasion for our leaders to do something more radical, more foundational,” he said.
”What do I mean, if the education sector, not just Ghana, can’t we come together and say that look because of COVID-19 we have postponed the examination until further notice? So that we do not subject our children to go to school to prepare for the examination,” he stated.
He emphasised that “The decision must be foundational and radical because the COVID is not just in Ghana.”
There have been calls by various teacher unions, some organizations and the major opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) on government to cancel both the WASSCE and BECE and allow students back home to prevent more students from contracting the virus.
But, Deputy Minister of Education, Dr. Yaw Adutwum has defended government’s decision not to close down schools amidst the increasing number of COVID-19 cases in second-cycle institutions.
In an interview on GHOne TV, monitored by Newswatchgh.com, Dr. Adutwum said government cannot cancel the exams and close down schools because they need to clear the final year students from the system.
He opined that shutting down schools will affect the enrollment of KG and first-year university students as new students have to be ushered into the system.
“At minimum let us move those who are finishing school because once we get the final year Junior High School students out, you’re opening the door for you to be able to enroll first year KG students,” he said, adding “If the JHS students are still there and they’re not out, you cannot even plan.”
According to the Deputy Minister, “what it means is that those who are supposed to go to KG when COVID-19 is out of the way, you can’t even think about them.”