How are schools changing and should they close again?

Welcome to our weekly blog for Teacher Tapp Ghana!

Every Monday we summarize our most surprising and interesting survey findings from the week before. This weekly blog provides an easy way for you to learn about the experiences and opinions of teachers across Ghana.

Please encourage your colleagues to use the Teacher Tapp app to keep engaged with education even when they’re not teaching. Your responses are also a vital data source that will guide decision-making around best policies and approaches for enhancing the welfare of educators/teachers and ensuring robust educational sector management.

Many more teachers will like to be heard and this can be done through Teacher Tapp. Do share this blog with your colleagues and encourage them to use the download links at the bottom of the page. In the meantime, here are this week’s intriguing findings…

1. Should schools close?

Much of the past week’s public debate around education has centred on whether reopened schools should close again. The source of concern is that some detected infections and a tragic student death suggest that reopened schools are causing teachers and young people to become infected.

We asked teachers what they think and our respondents were heavily divided. While 46% believe that schools should close, a slightly higher number believe that schools should remain open.

As we’ve discussed before on this blog, closing schools may reduce infection rates but puts exposes students to hunger, poverty, other mental and physical health issues as well as lost education. Lost education can put students at an enormous disadvantage when competing in the job market as well as having negative long-term consequences on health and quality of life.

However, keeping students in school can put them at very real immediate risk. Although research shows that individuals under the age of 20 are very unlikely to suffer from coronavirus, they still can catch it. Teachers are also at risk.

This risk can be minimised through various infection-reducing behaviours, e.g. maintaining social distance and wearing masks. Adults may be able to manage these constraints, but what about young people? According to one of our surveys from last week, nearly half of responding teachers told us their students consistently behave in ways that reduce the spread of infection.

This does leave 1 in 4 teachers who do not think their students behave in this way consistently and this is a cause for concern. Perhaps schools and teachers can focus on drilling these particular behaviours and rewarding students who comply with them? This could keep students safe from infection without having to close schools and risk lost education.

2 . Education Technology

Teachers we survey have had mixed opinions about education technology in the past.

But since school closures, their opinions have become more positive. A remarkable 99% of respondents told us that they now see access to education technology as more important than they did before school closures.

A similar 80% told us they now think education technology is more helpful for students than they did before the school closures.

These insights provide some suggestions for how GES can continue to invest in education. Increased access to education technology for remote teaching can help safeguard students against lost learning in the event of another school closure.

3 . What makes a good lesson?

Perhaps in line with these changing attitudes about education technology, 43% of respondents told us recently that their attitude towards what makes a good lesson have changed since March.

What may have motivated this change? And what might teachers now think should be the features of a good lesson? We’ll find out in the coming weeks.

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