This newspaper on Monday reported that the Ministry of Education is set to start a countrywide inspection of schools. The purpose of the inspection is to assess the readiness of schools before they reopen for more classes in January 2021.
In March, government directed all schools to close as a measure to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
Given the need to keep students, teachers, workers, and the general school environment free of coronavirus, the ministry’s planned countrywide inspection of schools is not only timely, but also a move in the right direction.
It is instructive that the inspection comes after government in October allowed schools to reopen only for candidate classes and finalists in universities and other tertiary institutions.
The move offers an opportunity for the ministry to assess the extent to which the finalists and candidates now at school are adhering to the standard operating procedures (SOPs) issued by the Ministry of Health.
Are the students observing social distancing in class, dormitory, laboratory, compound, etc? Are they wearing masks, washing hands with soap or using sanitisers? And who provides these students the requisite items – is it school, parents or government?
Such information is critical as it will enable the ministry to chart a way forward as it contemplates reopening learning institutions for other classes.
Most important, however, the ministry should not limit their inspection to only the Covid-19 pandemic SOPs.
There are many areas ministry officials should interest themselves in, including the state of schools sanitation in particular and the environment in general.
The ministry should now ensure that before any school reopens for other classes, it must have well-constructed places of convenience, a clean water source, adequate and conducive space for learning, among others.
For instance, a school should have playground for children to engage in co-curricular activities, spacious and well-aerated classrooms, good laboratories as well as qualified teachers. All these and more must be in place in order to ensure schools improve their performance in national exams, which has been declining in many schools.
Meanwhile, the ministry should not turn inspection of schools into a one time planned activity. In fact, there should be routine supervision of schools across the country.
The commissioner of education, inspectors of schools, district education officers and other stakeholders, should be empowered, if they are not, to always visit schools to assess learning status of students. The time is now to make schools work for the good of our children and country.
Our commitment to you
To be accurate and fair in all we do.
To be respectful to all in our pursuit of the truth.
To refuse to accept any compensation beyond that provided by Monitor Publications Ltd. for what we do in our news gathering and decision-making.
Further, we ask that we be informed whenever you feel that we have fallen short in our attempt to keep these commitments.