This year’s just-ended National Science and Maths Quiz(NSMQ) proved to be yet another thriller of a roller coaster ride that gripped many.
Some schools breezed through as if it was their birthright. Others struggled and managed to hang on by the tips of their fingernails, only to be booted out in subsequent rounds.
Then of course, there were a few upsets when lesser-known schools turfed out schools that claim to have pedigree. My beloved Opoku Ware School crashed out at the semi-final. The pain was deep. But knowing that we had performed better than our arch-rivals Prempeh College, which was booted out at the quarter-final stage, made the trip back to Kumasi slightly more bearable.
The 2019 final battle
At the end, only three schools were left to battle for the ultimate trophy; St. Augustine’s College (Augusco), Presec Legon and St. Peter’s SHS. With my school out, I did not have to feel nervous watching the competition live on TV because I had no particular emotional investment in any of the schools. But all throughout the competition, I had nothing but admiration for the young contestants who appeared very composed in the face of the huge, noisy crowds and television cameras. Not many adults have that mental agility.
When the dust settled, Augusco was left holding the cup, towering over the bloodied carcasses of the other two schools strewn across the stage of the National Theatre. And since success has many relatives, let me quickly establish that OWASS and Augusco are brothers. Aside both being Catholic schools, the first three African headmasters of OWASS were products of Augusco, as were three of our most-respected senior housemasters. On that happy note, this column wishes to congratulate my Augusco brothers most heartily.
There is no doubt that there are a lot of sharp young minds in this country to be proud of. Our challenge as a nation is how to harness these talents and nurture them for the technological and scientific progress we desperately need in order to lift our people from the depths of deprivation and onto the sunlit path of opportunity and promise. No nation that seeks to make progress can afford to ignore Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, otherwise known as the STEM subjects. Applied correctly, innovation through STEM subjects could change our lives in areas such as food sustainability, crop yields, sanitation and many others.
Government & Primetime Ltd initiatives
The Ministry of Education is working on providing STEM centres at senior high and basic school levels across the country to enhance the teaching and learning of science. But beyond that, the ministry is looking at the training of science teachers to ensure that their training reflects the realities and dynamics of science education for the 21st century. This is part of the broad review of our Colleges of Education curriculum, which is part of government’s initiatives to improve teacher quality and, therefore, learning outcomes. Particularly at the basic school level, it is important to get science education right and groom teachers who inspire and are able to bring out the very best in our children through creative, exciting and practical teaching methods.
I understand that Primetime Ltd, which organises the NSMQ, has introduced science fairs into the programme. These fairs, sponsored by GOIL Ghana Ltd, invite students to devise and submit innovative scientific projects to be inspected by a panel of judges. I think it is a wonderful initiative that seeks to bring a practical perspective to the quiz and improve the impact of science on young students.
In several instances, alumni of our schools in particular have spared no expense in getting their students ready for what has easily become the competition of the year. The frenzied investments and preparations of today make it near-impossible, in my view, for any school to win the trophy back-to-back.
It is for this reason, I boldly paraphrase a biblical statement and proclaim that ‘the 2019 champions [Augusco] you see today; you shall see no more in 2020 holding the trophy’.
The trophy shall move to Kumasi in 2020. Specifically, to Santase, home to OWASS. And all my readers, including Prempeh College alumni, shall say ‘AMEN!!’
BY: Rodney Nkrumah-Boateng