Ghana Education Service must ensure schools follow excursion procedures -Part 2

Ghana Education Service is a very reliable partner in the promotion of domestic tourism. Many initiatives have been made in the past geared towards the promotion of domestic tourism. As far back as 2012, as part of measures to promote domestic tourism, the Ministry for Tourism, Culture and Creative Arts in collaboration with the Education Ministry, began a special project at the primary, first and second cycle schools dubbed: “Promotion of Domestic Tourism through Schools, Every Child a Tourism Enthusiast,”. The project aimed to encourage pupils and students in primary, Junior and Senior High schools to participate actively in organised tourism related activities. The objective was to enhance students’ knowledge and understanding of the country, facilitate transfer of skills, develop sustainable livelihoods and create employment opportunities for young people through domestic tourism. This brilliant initiative coupled with other similar ones will need to be implemented by following the right procedures. The enthusiasm to promote domestic tourism must be done the right way. A continuation of the procedures from last week can be found below.

In planning an excursion, it is important school authorities have adequate information about student/pupils and staff medical information. This will enable administer the right treatment in case of any unforeseen circumstances. Having adequate medical information is normally a procedure that is followed during admission. Any planning committee for an excursion must have access to that data.

Next are requirements for any adventure activities (these involve greater than normal risk – there are additional considerations associated with these activities). Ghana Education Service must tell us what their procedures are for Emergency and risk management. In the developed countries, emergency risk management will include;

  • Assessment of excursion risks. An assessment of excursion risks must be undertaken for excursions requiring PTA approval. An excursion risk assessment plan must be provided which includes consideration of risks across the entire excursion (including transportation, activities undertaken, excursion venues and staff or student illness) and any significant financial risks to the school and/or parents (for example if an excursion needs to be cancelled). Venue managers and activity providers should be consulted in the preparation of the school’s risk management plan and where appropriate, the risk management plans of venues or activity providers should be used to inform the school if risk assessment process arrangements are in place.  If the excursion needs to be cancelled, recalled, or altered (for example: severe weather conditions, changes to travel advice, or students/pupils returning early due to illness/serious misbehaviour) manager will advise.
  • First aid requirements, At least one staff member responsible for each group of students must have first aid qualifications. Staff must also have a first aid kit appropriate to the excursion location and activities undertaken.

Cancellations or alterations

  • Principals/schools heads should inform parents that any costs associated with the student/pupils returning from an excursion early due to illness or serious misbehaviour are the responsibility of the parent.
  • Parents should be advised of possible cancellations or alterations, and any cancellation fees imposed on the parents by third parties.
  • With respect to arrangements between the school and third parties, principals/school heads should:
  •  Carefully negotiate terms and conditions with third parties (e.g. travel agents, travel insurance companies, camp providers, specialist instructors, expedition providers) prior to accepting arrangements
  • Ensure the terms of any travel insurance offered to the school by the third party are satisfactory.

Staffing and supervision

  • There must be sufficient staff to provide appropriate and effective supervision
    the experience, qualifications and skills of each staff member (including volunteers, instructors, etc) to allow them to provide effective supervision in general and for planned activities (as applicable)
  • There must be appropriate levels of supervision in view of the activities undertaken and students/pupils involved. Again, during the Kintampo disaster, it was said supervision by the teachers was poor. The teachers where not trained in basic safety procedures. The destination also did not provide enough supervision.

Transportation requirements

  • Public transport is often used in undertaking excursions. Many schools do not consider the use of very good and safe vehicles. They mostly look out for the cheapest vehicles which may not be in the best of condition to the detriments of the children. GES must find a way of inspecting the vehicles students/pupils use on their excursion and ensure the vehicles are not overloaded.
  • Transport authorities should be consulted on appropriate travel times and at least a fortnight’s notice of travel provided.
  • Excursions that run late, failing to follow inspection procedures by GES officials must be cancelled.

Communication requirements

  • Staff and students/pupils must have appropriate clothing and personal equipment.
  • Group or technical equipment must be in good condition and suitable for the activities undertaken.
  • Continuous instruction will be provided for students/pupils remaining at the school during the absence of staff accompanying the excursion.
  • The regional or district director of GES must be informed if an excursion leaves the school unoccupied.
  • Any information which has been provided by specialists in the activities proposed
    requirements for excursions abroad must be communicated.
  • Where external providers have been engaged to deliver specific activities or programs for students/pupils, or provide other services, the school retains responsibility for its students/pupils. The duty of care of the school staff to students/pupils cannot be delegated to a third party.

Parents or guardians should be advised of the telephone numbers (both during and outside school hours) for the designated school contact person in the event of an emergency.  During the excursion, if parents have reason to believe an emergency may have occurred (such as a media report) they should be informed that in the first instance they should call the contact person and not personnel on the excursion as this will keep the telephone lines free at the excursion site. Arrangements for communicating with parents in the event of an emergency, cancellation or recall of the excursion must be made. Consent forms must remain at the school with the designated school contact person and copies of each form must be taken on the excursion by the teacher in charge.

In the event of an emergency, accident or injury, staff on the excursion should:

  • take emergency action
  • immediately notify the school principal/school head
  • the principal should make arrangements to inform GES immediately.

Philip Gebu is a Tourism Lecturer. He is the C.E.O of FoReal Destinations Ltd, a Destinations Management and Marketing Company based in Ghana and with partners in many other countries. Please contact Philip with your comments and suggestions. Write to forealdestinations@gmail.com / info@forealdestinations.com. Visit our website at www.forealdestinations.com or call or WhatsApp +233(0)244295901/0264295901.Visist our social media sites Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: FoReal Destinations.