Deputy Education Minister, Dr Yaw Adutwum, has made a critical appraisal of Ghana’s senior high school(SHS) curriculum, describing it as a major impediment to innovation.
His damning assessment of the SHS curriculum on the Super Morning Show on Joy FM, Monday was in reaction to comments that Ghanaian science students usually have knowledge about theories and none or limited knowledge about practical training.
Renowned Hostess of the National Science and Maths Quiz, Dr Elsie Kaufmann, had lamented that students she has come into contact with are unable to translate the theories and ideas into meaningful innovations.
“They [SHS students] are the best and the brightest, and yet something is wrong with their education because they’re not able to translate all those theories, wonderful ideas and foundation into useful outcomes,” she sad on the KSM Show, a late evening TV show.
She revealed that the 2018 winners of the National Maths and Science Quiz failed a global competition because although they were brilliant science students, they could not recognise the equipment at the global event.
“They didn’t understand it because they couldn’t even understand and recognize how the equipment they were given worked. The young man said they can tell you everything about the theories, they can describe and explain everything but they cannot apply anything,” she said.
A short video of Dr Kaufmann, who is also a Biomedical Engineering Lecturer at the University of Ghana, making the comments published on Facebook has generated a debate, perhaps for the umpteenth time, about Ghana’s education system.
When Dr Adutwum appeared on the Super Morning Show on Monday to make known his Ministry’s position on the education debate, he described the situation as unfortunate and called for a major revolution.
“We box them [SHS students] into these boxes called Visual Arts, and Science and General Arts, that is the worse form of curriculum you can give to high school students. Because when those students are growing up [from] Junior High School, what does she know to say I want to do Home Economics? And we tell them that once you do that, that is the door of no return.
“Because when you do Visual Arts in this country what happens to you? Either you go to the university to do a Bachelor of Arts. Or if you did Elective Mathematics then you have a chance of doing Architecture and that is it,” he told Super Morning Show Host, Daniel Dadzie.
A better system would be one that gives students a well-rounded education possible.
“All science students should be able to do Visual Arts and Performing Arts. That is what is going to bring about the innovation,” he said.
He warned that if Ghana leaves the assessment of its students to the West African Examination Council (WAEC), the main examination body for Ghana, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and The Gambia, rote learning will only intensify.
“Why are we surprised that the children are doing rote learning? Because that is how you get to the university; that is how you pass the exams…,” he said.
There is good news, however.
The good news is that there is a holistic national curricula reform is ongoing. The process will be completed in September 2019 for implementation to begin.
The National Council for Curricula Assessment (NACCA) is currently holding stakeholder consultations to change the high school and junior high school aspects Ghana’s curriculum, the Deputy Education Minister revealed.