Candidates for this year’s West African Senior Secondary Certificate Examinations (WASSEC) will write ‘Country Specific Examinations’ due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The WASSCE is expected to commence from August 3 to September 4, this year following the postponement of the original date in June.
This has become necessary because countries in the West African sub-region are battling the respiratory disease and at different levels of management and easing of restrictions, and it would be difficult to agree on a common date for writing the examinations.
Over the past decade, some countries in the sub-region, including; Ghana, Nigeria and Gambia have agreed to allow their students at the secondary school level participate in the WASSCE, which is supervised by the West African Examination Council(WAEC) and enable holders of WASSCE to pursue university education in member countries of ECOWAS.
Dr Matthew Opoku Prempeh, Ghana’s Education Minister, giving details of the school reopening protocols following the easing of restrictions on public gatherings in Accra on Tuesday, said WASSCE candidates would write ‘Ghana Specific Exams’, instead of the WASSCE.
The Minister said all students will start lessons at 0900 hours and close at 1300 hours, break periods will be observed in the classroom when schools re-open on June 15.
Government would provide three sets of reusable face masks to students and staff.
There should be disinfection of all educational institutions both public and private, while school authorities ensure availability of washing facilities such as Veronica Buckets for hand washing.
There would be no religious service and sporting activities in schools while students attend dining hall in batches. The Minister said all Day Students in boarding schools would be accepted as boarders whilst Day Schools would have enhanced daily health protocols.
Also, there would be mapping of schools and link them with health facilities for quick response to any medical emergencies.
University and SHS students would use six weeks for academic work and four weeks to write their exit examinations whilst JHS students would spend 11 weeks for academic work and a week to write the Basic Education Certificate Examinations(BECE).
The Minister stated that parents or guardians who had children in boarding schools would not be allowed to visit their children during the period.
In his 10th national broadcast on measures to contain the spread of COVID-19 last Sunday, President Akufo-Addo eased restrictions on public gathering and announced the re-opening of schools for the final year students at the basic, secondary and tertiary levels.
He said effective Monday, June 15, final year students of the universities should report to campus to prepare for academic work.
Final year students at the Senior High Schools (SHS), together with the SHS Two Gold Track students were to report on June 22, while the Junior High Schools (JHS) Student Three are supposed to resume on June 29.
All JHS 3 class will comprise a maximum of 30 students, SHS classes 25 and the Universities half the class sizes.
Dr Opoku Prempeh said government would embark on aggressive back-to-school and re-entry campaign and entreated the leadership of schools to ensure hygiene and social distancing protocols are observed by the teachers, non-teaching staff and students.
The Minister advised parents with sick children not to allow them to attend classes and seek treatment for them. The Minister said all foreign students outside the country would be allowed to return but would undergo a 14-day quarantine.