Ghana: Let's Intensify Science and Mathematics Education

11 November 2020

Yesterday, November 10, passed quietly in Ghana without any public education on the significance of the day to our national development.

Although every day is significant in our lives, November 10 has been designated to be celebrated as the World Science Day for Peace and Development under the auspices of United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), to strengthen public awareness of the role of science for peaceful and sustainable development.

According to the literature, the day is also used to promote national and international solidarity for shared values of science between countries; review national and international commitment for the use of science for the benefit of societies; and to draw attention to the challenges by science in raising support for scientific endeavours.

One of the definitions of science is "Knowledge or system of knowledge covering general truths or the operation of general laws, especially as obtained and tested through scientific methods".

Science is all about our lives. Products of science facilitate our lives. Indeed, without science there will be no human existence.

This year's theme for the celebration of World Science Day is 'Science for and with society in dealing with COVID-19'.

No doubt, the global COVID-19 pandemic has dealt a big blow to humanity and we need to apply science to overcome the pandemic and other pandemics that might confront us with time, finding out the causes and possible remedies in terms of medicines and vaccines to curb further spread.

In a message to mark the day yesterday, the Director General of UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay, said, "The current crisis should serve as a wake-up call regarding the urgency for increased financing and support of scientific research and collaborations. This concerns not only natural sciences, but also the social and human science."

We urge the government to prioritise funding research for the scientific community to investigate and come up with solutions to address our myriad of socio-economic challenges.

The few science and mathematics teachers would like to work in industries where they can make fortunes rather than the classroom, resulting in shortages of mathematics and science teachers in some senior high schools.

We have noted with concern the opinion of a writer regarding the study of science and mathematics education in Ghana in an article, "The evolution and impact of STEM education in Ghana."

The writer posits that "Right from the basic school, students are made to study some of the basic principles in science and mathematics. However, it is sad to say that the perception of students concerning science and mathematics leaves much to be desired."

He continues that, "Most people view science and mathematics as extremely difficult and abstract, having little meaning to their daily lives. This perception makes it difficult for most students to fully appreciate the essence of STEM education and give it the needed attention it deserves."

Consequently, the writer states, "They, therefore, stick to the infamous method of chew-pour-pass-and -forget, just cramming the knowledge to pass exams without fully understanding it."

We share in the sentiments expressed by the writer and ask that teaching and learning of mathematics and science must be made more attractive!

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