Overworked students, Face masks and the end of Educational Charities?

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 colleague.

1. Are students overworking themselves?

A couple of weeks ago we asked you how much work you believe different age groups of students should be completing during the closures. The following week we actually how much work you think these groups of students are actually completing.

What was fascinating about these results is that you told us that students are actually working much more than they should. For example, in the graph below we can see that while only 10% of you believe that primary students should be working more than 5 hours per day, 40% of you believe students are working this amount!

A similar pattern was observed for SHS students, where around half of you told us you believe SHS students should be working less than 5 hours per day. However, nearly 70% of you told us you believe students are working more than this amount

These results raise lots of interesting issues. For a start, they contrast with our findings in the UK where most teachers believe their students are completing less than two hours of work per day, even when teachers believe they should be aiming to complete more.

They also contrast to results in other countries within Africa. For example, research in Senegal has shown that 30% of students are engaged in no educational activities whatsoever. In contrast, your reports from Ghana suggest students are doing more work than they might do in school!

This also has implications for current debates on the impact of school closures. A significant concern for many is that school closures is resulting in lost learning for most students – especially those from poorer backgrounds – as well as driving educational inequalities.

This data might suggest that there is less loss of learning happened than initially expected. However, it is worth remembering that ‘work completed’ at home may be vastly inferior to work that might be completed in school with a teacher in a properly planned lesson. It is also worth remembering much of the work students are completing might just be keeping them busy rather than consolidating or advancing their education.

We might also raise questions about how accurate teachers’ judgments are on this issue. Although our polling shows teachers have been speaking to their students regularly, teachers may not have a clear picture how much their students are working unless they ask for an exact figure in hours. Students may not even know the answer to this question unless they were timing their working hours!

2 . Who should get protective equipment?

Although 63% of you have heard a rumour about when schools will reopen, there is currently no clear plan for a return to school. However, many schools around the world that have reopened have required teachers to wear protective equipment (e.g. face masks, gloves) while teaching.

If this were part of GES’ plan for school reopening, then it could be a straightforward policy to institute. Nearly 100% of you told us you already own a face mask, which would remove the problem of having to supply them.

However, teachers were divided over whether they would be comfortable wearing them. 41% told us they would be comfortable, 46% said they would feel uncomfortable.

Interestingly, JHS and SHS teachers were twice as likely to say they would feel comfortable wearing a mask than their primary colleagues. We can understand the reasons for this – primary teachers may find it more difficult to explain wearing a mask to younger students and may find them more sensitive to such a significant change to a familiar environment. Teachers of older children may also be more at risk of infection, making them more comfortable with protecting themselves.

Given these circumstances, we wondered which groups of teachers you thought were most in need of protective equipment. While half of teachers chose not to answer this question, those that did answer generally agreed that older teachers should be given preference.

As older people are, in general, at greater risk from the virus this preference makes sense. However, in previous polls, teachers have opposed the idea that older teachers should return to work later than younger teachers. This is strange as this would be the best way of keeping older teachers safe from infection.

Perhaps school just can’t functions without the skill and wisdom of older teachers? It is also worth noting that many will probably have essential senior roles.

3 . Your opinions on Educational Charities…

There are dozens of educational charities with Ghana. Some of these are run as part of larger international organisations and others have been developed domestically. Some are very large while others are much smaller community efforts.

Whatever their size, our polling shows that 1 in 2 of you believe the governments rely too much on charities. This feeling also extended to international aid.

However, interestingly, 60% of you also told us you believe these education charities are better able to support with improving education than GES!

This might seem contradictory – surely if charities are more effective at improving education then surely it is wholly appropriate for the government to rely on them?

We suspect the issue might be that charities are currently able to better support with educational improvement. This would mean that teachers would GES to improve its performance so it can do the work educational charities currently do as their overall preference is to manage educational improvement through the government.

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