Dear Mama Helga,
Greetings to you, Christfried, and the rest of Freunde für Ghana. We are fine here in Hohoe by the grace of God. How about you?
Before the COVID-19
Schools were running smoothly before the first two (2) cases of COVID-19 were reportedly recorded in Ghana.
On Sunday 15th March, we had a Parent Teacher Association (PTA) meeting of the school. It was the mop-up stage of the academic term where we talked about issues, especially the settlement of the balance of fees the parents owed the school.
That night, we received an unexpected news in the President’s first address to the nation regarding the nouvelle COVID-19. Our borders were to be closed in some days, there would be a partial lockdown in the cities, plus all schools must close down till further notice.
COVID-19 and Government’s interventions
We are still managing the shock of a situation we have never encountered. Private schools such as Momo Montessori Academy are the hardest hit. The Ministry of Education has been consulting the Ministry of Health to see the way forward. We support them with maximum cooperation. It must be a very tough situation for the authorities also.
As a private educational institution, all I could do was to pay 50% of salaries for March for all 34 staff (one died later on so we are now 33 staff).
How each staff is surviving with their dependents, I do not know. I cannot ask them, so I only imagine and this is impossible for my mind. My heart beats that some might not return.
The pupils and enrolment
Since 16th March, 2020 to date I am afraid some children might not return for one or two reasons. In such a case I would have to call about a hundred parents and ask why their children did not report back in the re-opening week. Updating my physical and electronic records is a routine in such an instance.
Government institutions have considered how to mitigate the effect of the pandemic on their clients. Somehow, we still have unpaid bills for waste, water, light and taxes. The social security department is still negotiating better terms and possibilities after I served them a letter. Nonetheless, I still will have to pay some residual sums.
The school has not been occupied for a long time. Classrooms have been disserted for six (6) months and now I see rust and dust.
We would return to school full stream next year.
The compound is quite large for me to keep tidy of weeds and plastic waste. The rains have made the new walls and floors green and this is not nice. My engineer has suggested we could manage GHS 1,000.00 to divert the flow of rain water at the top floor in order to save the ground floors and walls from turning green in the meantime.
Furniture and equipment
After some inspection, I am disappointed about the state of our furniture, photocopier and printers. I am still thinking about the repairs and replacements that must be done when we return.
My office desktop which I purchased at GHS 2,500.00 has stopped working. I have taken it to Accra for repairs s several months ago. The repairs should not cost more than half the initial price, otherwise I am in a big trouble.
The final year students have come to prepare for the external examination. They will write from 14th to 18th September, and then we can say goodbye to them.
In our president’s 16th Address on COVID-19, he announced our second-year students should resume school from 5th October to 14th December, 2020. With just seven (7) students in this class (just like the final year students), we need to do some adjustments and this would bring a lot of inconveniences.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs)
The Ministry of Education has provided nose masks and handwashing facility for the partial re-opening. Some parents are however still sceptical.
Building Project Work in Progress
- Doors and windows
- Building the pillars and walls of the top
- Floors screeding and walls plastering
- Metal works
- Electrical and plumbing works
This means after (a) doors and windows are fixed on the ground floor we are ready to reopen.
I still have a dream
I see the need to provide the required guidance for our students to discover themselves and make important decisions about the future. This has been the backdrop of the Career Guidance and Counselling workshops I facilitated with the assistance of Thorben and Lasse (my German volunteers). These I hope would help them as they choose their programmes of study for the next level. The system gets rigid afterwards and it does not encourage changes, hence they have to be well informed so they choose carefully.
Divine Woenenyo Agbley, Headmaster.