The Ghana Commission for UNESCO joined other stakeholders in Education to commemorate the 3rd International Day for Education.
Considering the extended closures of schools from March 2020 until recently, humanity must cherish “the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities”. Unfortunately, the equal opportunities in Education that countries have garnered over the years, risk being eroded in the face of the COVID 19 Pandemic.
The COVID 19 pandemic at its peak affected 1.5% billion learners; further threatening education, which is a global public good, and a safe environment for some learners.
Students, parents, and other stakeholders were elated when in early January, the President, HE Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo announced that schools should re-open. The Ghana Education Service embarked on the #BackToSchool Campaign to encourage students to return to schools.
Thus, Ghana Commission for UNESCO, UNESCO Ghana, Institute for Education Planning and Administration (IEPA), Ghana Education Service (GES), and Ghana National Education Campaign Coalition (GNECC), seized the day, which falls on 24 January every year, to take stock of the government’s COVID-19 Education Response and Schools reopening: the success, challenges, and lessons learned and give a voice to the COVID-19 generation to express their concerns and aspirations in the face of a future marked by an economic recession and climate change.
The commemoration was in two parts: GNECC organised a Youth Parliament for students who have completed Junior High School (JHS). They were selected from Bontrase, Akuffulkrodua, and Ahentia in the Awutu Senya District in the Central Region. The Speaker of the Youth Parliament, Ms. Shirley Serwaa Banafo, steered the affairs on the floor of parliament.
Before the Youth Parliamentary Debate, there was a welcome address, keynote address, a presentation from IEPA, a statement from GNECC National, and Ghana National Commission for UNESCO respectively given by Mr. Pius S. K. Dzinyela, Mrs. Martha O. Agyeman, Dr. Michael Boakye-Yiadom, Mr. Joshua Nyumuah, and Mr. Apollonius Asare.
The Youth Parliamentarians called on stakeholders to improve the use of technology to drive education especially in the face of the COVID 19. They also added that Government should create equal opportunities for all learners irrespective of geographical location.
The Female Caucus of the Youth Parliament emphasized the fact that there is the need to eradicate all forms of discrimination against girls in Education.
Prof. Yaw Afari Ankomah, Chairman of the Education Specialized Committee at the Ghana Commission for UNESCO, reiterated the fact that in as much as discrimination in Education is often unintended, efforts must be made so that no learner is left behind. He encouraged all learners to promote COVID 19 protocols. He also stressed the need for Government to make the internet accessible to all learners irrespective of geographical location.
Further public sensitization of the day and advocacy was undertaken by, Mr. Apollonius Asare from Ghana Commission for UNESCO and Mr. Abeku Takyi from GNECC who went on Kastle FM’s Morning Show while Mr. Kofi Kwakye Takyi and Mr. Moses J. Y. Gemeh both from Ghana Commission for UNESCO and Dr. Michael Boakye-Yiadom from IEPA went to ATL FM.
According to Dr. Boakye Yiadom, IEPA, a UNESCO Category Two Centre of Excellence, has been playing different roles in the capacity building of the Ministry of Education and its agencies in Ghana and beyond, hence are glad to be part of the celebration. He reminded listeners about the importance of clawing back lost learning after almost 10 months of schools closing from 16 March 2020 to 15 January 2021 because of the need to curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
“There are a lot of issues for us to think about and reflect and the theme (Recover and Revitalize Education for the COVID 19 Generation) we believe is very appropriate and convenient globally because of the many challenges that we have had in educational institutions due to COVID-19”, says Dr. Boakye Yiadom.
The discussions at the radio stations centered among other things the rationale behind the celebration of International Education Day, the meaning of the theme for the celebration, etc.