Postpone reopening of schools to save lives, says Africa Education Watch

Africa Education Watch, a non-governmental organisation, has advised the government to consider postponing the reopening of JHS and SHS schools

Africa Education Watch has urgently advised the government to consider postponing the reopening of junior and senior high schools starting in October.

A statement issued and signed by the executive director of the NGO, Kofi Asare, said: “In the past few days, Ghana has been terrified with news of various armed secessionist groups attacking communities, innocent citizens and security personnel in parts of the Volta Region.”

The Africa Education Watch statement noted how schools have always been targeted by such rebel groups across Africa, especially in Nigeria and Cameroon, where armed separatist groups have murdered many students and teachers.

Advice to government

“The decision by the government to reopen junior high and senior high schools on 5 October 2020 must be urgently reconsidered to save the lives of students, teachers and non-teaching staff in some 1,400 public and private JHSs and SHSs in the Volta Region.”

On Sunday 30 August, President Akufo-Addo, in his 16th address to the nation on the measures taken by the government to curtail the spread of COVID-19, announced the reopening of schools for second-year JHS and SHS students, effective 5 October, to enable them to complete their academic calendar.

However, the education NGO believes the recent attacks by rebels from the Western Togoland group on parts of the Volta Region put the safety of schoolchildren at risk, hence the need to postpone reopening of schools.

Rebel attacks

On Friday (25 September) the Western Togoland Group launched attacks on the Aveyime and Mepe police stations in the North Tongu District of the Volta Region in Sogakope, as well as in Asutuare and Atimpoku in the neighbouring Eastern Region.

The secessionists had ordered all members of the security services to leave the “homeland” within 24 hours and not attempt to take any arms or ammunition with them. Reports suggest that the rebels are holding a number of police officers hostage.

The armed group also mounted roadblocks amid firing of gunshots, prompting joint police and military action.

On Monday 28 September, individuals believed to be linked to the group launched another attack in the Volta Region at the Ho terminal of the nation’s premier transport company, Intercity STC.

The attackers held a private security guard and some drivers of the company hostage, torched at least one minibus and fired warning shots before fleeing the scene.

Intercity STC has since suspended operations out of Ho indefinitely.

Fred Dzakpata

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