Science Education is Central to the Lives of all Citizens

Ghana as a developing country must incorporate science, technology, and innovation into its economic and development strategies so as to accelerate its progress. “There is no doubt that science education is central to the lives of all citizens in the world. Presently, we live in a complex world and science knowledge has become so critical in making sense of it all”.  A Professor of Science Education at the Department of Science and Mathematics Education, University of Cape Coast, Prof. Joseph Ghartey Ampiah, expressed these sentiments when he delivered an inaugural lecture on the topic: Pre-Tertiary Science Education in Ghana: Curriculum, Teaching, Resources and Students Performance. Prof. Ghartey Ampiah who has 29 years experience as a professional teacher intimated that Science and technology therefore, have become major cultural products of human history, and all citizens, irrespective of their occupational needs, should be acquainted with them as elements of human culture. He averred that it was important for citizens of both developing and developed countries to have a certain level of science literacy to be able to cope with the demands and problems of a science-oriented society in the context of their lives outside school. He was of the view that, compulsory science literacy lessons taught in schools particularly at the primary and junior high school (JHS) levels will benefit students in their everyday life if properly designed.   He however, raised concerns about the kind of science that is taught as prescribed by the curriculum, the kind of people who teach the science, how they teach it and with what resources, and how students perform in science. “It is critical for students who learn science to understand it and also develop interest in it,” he added. The Professor of Science Education conceded that science curricula the world-over has been heavily loaded with content and the Ghana science curricula was not exceptional.  He added that attempts to delineate what aspect of science are important for all students to learn and what should be studied beyond basic science literacy, which will be beneficial to students who will not go on to offer careers in science have proved elusive to curriculum developers in many countries including Ghana. He said the expectations of pupils in the 2012 lower primary and upper primary school science were too ambitious considering their level of maturity. He therefore called for the need to revisit the 2012 primary and JHS science curricula.   He revealed that West Africa Examination Council (WAEC) results for the four science subjects; elective biology, chemistry, physics and integrated science, over the past five years (2011 to 2015) have shown disturbing results of a general decline in performance but the underlying factors were not being addressed. He cited unrealistic and overloaded science curriculum for basic schools, poor resources for instruction that is lack of computers, educational software, science laboratories for basic schools and SHS, poor quality of teachers and inappropriate pedagogy, low content knowledge of basic school teachers and lack of laboratory activities in basic schools and SHS as some of the reasons for the poor performance of pupils and students at the basic and secondary levels respectively.