MONROVIA – Amidst setbacks suffered by the country’s educational system and considering the numerous threatening issues posed as the result of the outbreak of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the country, the Ministry planned to develop robust measures to mitigate these challenges and ensure that students across the country are accorded the appropriate and prescribed training.
In outlining decision on Retention and Promotion Statements as well as Plans to Reopen Schools ahead of WASSCE, The Ministry also notes that the setback suffered by the system education system is yet another setback similar to that of the Ebola crisis, which has resulted in the disruption of the school year 2019/2020, interruption of students’ learning processes, financial instability of institutions, as well as, teachers and parents.
Through several engagements with education stakeholders and health experts, the Ministry of Education disclosed that it has concluded key policy decisions that guide the next steps of school administrators, school systems, partners, students and parents, towards reopening.
Accordingly, the Ministry said there is no need for promotion of students to the next class, adding that completing the prescribed lesson for a grade level is key before passing to the next class.
Ending Academic Year 2019/2020
The Ministry of Education, consistent with its mandate which deems school-activities suspended due to the disruption caused by COVID-19, has further determined based on analysis of the current situation and in consultation with stakeholders that schools will resume instructional activities from the point where they left off upon reopening and commencement of physical academic activities. Additionally, schools shall not charge new fees other than the balances/arrears brought forward from the Academic Year 2019/2020.
The Minister of Education, Prof. Ansu D. Sonii, Sr. maintains that learning is the key reason for schooling and such requires completing the prescribed lesson for a grade level before passing to the next.
Meanwhile, upon the pronouncement by the President, His Excellency Ambassador George Manneh Weah, based on consensus by the West African Examinations Council member countries to administer WASSCE in August and the need to prepare 12th graders ahead of the examinations, a 2-week period beginning June 8, to June 22, 2020, is required for cleaning and preparation of the physical facilities/school campuses and buildings to accommodate the students.
A comprehensive guideline, including School Health, Well-being, and Safety for schools, is in its final stage for release before June 20, 2020.
The Ministry also confirms that an immediate shift in the academic calendar to ensure the completion of the lost instruction period caused by the pandemic shall take effect leading to increased instructional days per week to include Saturday or Sunday in the case of Seven Days Adventist schools and students.
Retention and Promotion
Following the decision to complete the academic curriculum for 2019/2020, all schools shall be required to complete all lessons of the outstanding 60 instructional days lost due to the health crisis within 55 instructional days including Saturdays or Sunday as described above.
The assessment reports shall there and then be determined from these periods and that of the previous, prior to COVID 19, and used as the basis for Promotion and Retention Statements of students. In furtherance to the mandate to complete the Academic Curriculum and learning period, the Ministry also insists that retention and promotion of students shall not be determined on the basis of any form of online engagement or distance learning intervention with students during the STAY HOME period. Especially that the Ministry discourages any physical delivery of learning and assessment materials from campuses due to the associated health risks.
Continuous Learning as a refresher study
The Ministry of Education in collaboration with partners continues the broadcasting of a Teaching by Radio program geared towards providing refresher learning for students as they stay away from school due to the health crisis.
The program is a thirty minutes interval broadcast of core subjects for grade K1 to grade 12 that are aired by lesson, by time, and by schedule, by multiple radio stations across the country. The on-air teaching program is intended to provide students the opportunity to access learning content while the necessary measures are instituted to reopen schools across the country.
It is expedient that children continue learning and parents and caregivers are engaged to support children while they remain home. Therefore, the Ministry is conducting a Teaching by Radio program aimed at providing refresher learning for students, keeping them abreast of their studies until official academic activities begin. The Teaching by Radio Program is aired on radio stations across all counties.