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### SCIENCE AND MATHEMATICS IN BASIC SCHOOLS IN GHANA

Prof. J. Anamuah-Mensah

EDUIT Consortium

&

Prof. A. Asabere-Ameyaw

Vice chancellor, UEW

The Power of the Teacher‘The assumption that teachers are not powerful is one of the biggest fallacies of our society. As a group they have a power which is second to none… It is they, the teachers now at work and going through Training College who are shaping what [the country] will become, much more than we who pass laws, make rules, and make speeches!’(Julius Nyerere)

Context of SME for Basic Education

- Farmers are still using traditional methods of farming;
- Scientific and mathematical literacy among the youth is low;
- SME has no influence on majority of people;
- Low pass rate in SME at BECE & SSSCE/WASSCE
- Enrolment of people with poor grades in SME in TTCs
- Enrolment in science-based prog. at SHS declined from 30.6% in 2000 to 26.6% in 2005;
- Enrolment in science prog. in universities is only 35%.

Guiding Philosophy of Education

- “…..create well-balanced (intellectually, spiritually, emotionally, physically) individuals with the requisite knowledge, skills, values and aptitudes for self-actualisation and for the socio-economic and political transformation of the nation”

Purpose of Basic Science and Mathematics Education

- Exciting pupils in things around them;
- Develop inquiry, problem solving and creative skills;
- Provides foundation for development of human resources for the nation;
- Provides capabilities in engineering, science research and innovation;
- Produce scientifically literate citizens

Weakness

- Persistence of pupils’ misconceptions
- Poor performance on CRT and PMT
- JICA Baseline Study
- TIMSS study

Mathematics - JICA data

- Pupils found word problems difficult due to weak conceptual understanding and poor English language
- In upper primary, weaknesses in ratio, fractions, percentages, division, shapes and decimals
- At JSS/JHS, areas of weakness include operation of fractions, proportion, geometry, and measurement.

Science - JICA data

Science and mathematics are bedfellows,a good knowledge in maths is needed in science.

- Weakness in carrying out simple mathematical procedures embedded in science tasks, eg., conversion of centimeters to meters
- Difficulties in recording observations diagrammatically, graphically or pictorially or answer questions in relation to their observations

Trends in international Mathematics and science Studies(TIMSS)-Science

- The overall performance of the Ghanaian students on the science test was very low- the overall mean score of 255 placed the nation at 45th position(International average:474)
- The mean percentage correct on all test science test items for each participating Ghanaian student was 19%.
- There was a very large variation in science abilities among the students with some scoring as low as 52 and others scoring as high as 450.
- Pupils’ weakest content area was in physics
- Students performed well at the “factual knowledge” level instead of the “conceptual understanding” and “reasoning and analysis” levels

TIMSS- Mathematics

- Ghana’s overall performance in mathematics was poor, placing it in the 45th position- the overall score of 276 was far below the international mean of 467
- The mean percentage correct on all mathematics test items for each participating Ghanaian student was 15
- Their weakest content areas were in Algebra, Measurement and Geometry
- There was a large variation in mathematical abilities among the students with some scoring as low as 130 and others scoring as high as 430
- Performance was more at “facts and procedures” level instead of “using concepts”, “solving routine problems” and “reasoning” levels

Curricular issues - TIMSS

- No provision made in the curricula for teaching children with different abilities
- Students were taught by teachers who were not specialists in maths or science
- Teaching was dominated by demonstration and lecture
- Students spent considerable time on homework but the nature of home work did not seem to improve their achievement

What pre-service training has equipped you with…….

- Pedagogical content knowledge
- Curriculum knowledge
- Subject content knowledge
- Knowledge of learners and their characteristics

Science and Mathematics curriculum

Intended

Curriculum

Implemented

Curriculum

Attained

Curriculum

What society will

Like to be taught

What is actually

taught

What is learnt

goals

experiences

etc.

interaction of

teacher, learner

and curricular

materials

extent of

achievement

of implemented

curriculum

Weaknesses in TE preparation

- Low emphasis given to subject matter content during pre-service;
- Disconnection between theory and practical application;
- Teaching of science and mathematics at the primary level is conducted in English which is not the mother tongue but a foreign medium of instruction

A model of factors involved in science and

Mathematics teaching and learning

S & M

content

Community S&M

Community S&M

Pupils’

Performance

in S & M

Method

pupil

S&MTeacher

School

resources for S&M

Community S&M

Community S&M

Conclusion

- Place emphasis on practical and innovative S&M teaching,particularly, development of scientific skills such observation, recording and interpretation of data - drawing, labeling, graphing
- Improvisation of simple expts.
- Teach science and maths in the context of everyday life in order to bring out their application.
- Being conversant with new syllabuses

Science and mathematics subjects

in Basic schools

Primary

1-3

Primary

4-6

JHS

1-3

Natural science

Integrated science

Integrated science

Mathematics

Mathematics

Mathematics

ICT

ICT

ICT

The challenge of changing teachers attitudes and practices

- Changing perceptions of what constitute good science at the basic level;
- Teaching according to the grain of the brain

WHAT IS LEARNING?

Learning is not a spectator sport. Students do not learn much just by sitting in class listening to teachers, memorizing prepackaged assignments, and spitting out answers. They must talk about what they are learning, write about it, relate it to past experiences, apply it to their daily lives. They must make what they learn part of themselves.

Arthur W. Chikering & Zelda F. Gamson,

“Seven Principles of Good Practice” AAHE

Bulletin 39 3-7, March 1987

BEING INNOVATIVE AND CREATIVE IS THE HALLMARK OF A SCIENCE AND MATHEM ATICS TEACHER

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