Honorable Omar Ceesay, Niamina East lawmaker has accused the Minister of Basic and Secondary Education of misleading the National Assembly on the covid-19 regulation in schools.
“The Minister is not answering the questions and speaker is depriving me from my right. Don’t you think that is the disadvantage the Honorable member is talking about what is the implication of that,” he said.
“We don’t need to be told what is happening in our schools whether covid is observed or not. We are all aware that covid rules are not observed. Covid regulation is not observed regularly in our schools,” he added.
Responding to the allegation, Minister of Basic and Secondary Education, Honorable Claudiana Cole told lawmakers that: “the Ministry has developed models for reopening of schools to show continuity of learning amid of Covid-19.
“The models are tailored to suit the needs of school with the target of 200 days on the school calendar. It is important to know the models are not one size filled, hence based on simulations only 23 schools were expected to alternate. Furthermore, the reason for the simulation is, we have for all categories of schools from lower to upper basic. Schools that have small enrolment and other large irrespective of the category,” she added.
She continued that: “some are with population over 3000, senior and upper basic are equally large. The consideration of social distancing we needed to employ in our classrooms, where it accommodates up to 45 which is the teacher population. We needed to double number of classrooms to be able to accommodate all the children. And sort of giving them an equal amount of contract time for the school year. This the reason why we did not have enough classroom we had to use different models for big schools so that all the students will have an opportunity to be able to be in schools for certain number of days during the week.”
According to her, only 23 schools nationally are using this alternative but perhaps people are worried and it has never been in the system due to covid. She added that the Ministry is doing well to address the challenges, for some schools that did not have afternoon shift they have extra study classes to ensure that loss contact hours are targeted.
Meanwhile, speaker Maryam Jack Denton said: “I have always drawn the attention of honourable members to understand the essence of supplementary questions. If there is any ambiguity in the response given by any Minister then of course you have the right to ask for clarification. I’m not sure whether your questions are seeking for clarification on any ambiguity raised by the
Banjul south MP, Honorable Touma Njie said is very sad to hear a cabinet member saying the word ‘only’ here even if it affect one school only it is pathetic, “let the Minister explain whether the covid-19 protocols are being respected and how is the Ministry monitoring it.”