The Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER) of the University of Ghana says Ghana has to prioritise the teaching and learning of Science and Mathematics related programmes to aid development.
Professor Felix Asante, Director of ISSER and Coordinator of the 2015 State of the Ghanaian Economy Report (SGER), said this at the launch of the 2015 SGER with an Optional Chapter on ‘The State of Education in Ghana’ in Accra.
He said while enrolments in secondary schools had increased significantly from 2005/2006 to 2014/15, performance in the West African Secondary School Certificate Examination (WASSCE), particularly in Mathematics and Science had been declining since 2012.
Describing it as a worrying trend, he said the decline continue to reflect at the tertiary education level where according to the national accreditation board, the ratio of science-based to humanities-based programmes in public universities was 36:64 per cent at both diploma and undergraduate levels.
“The overall ratio of science-based to humanities-based programmes was about 30:70 per cent in 2014,” the report said.
Prof. Asante said that was not good for the country as science and technology were globally recognised as the solution to underdevelopment and drivers of development.
He said providing pupils with the opportunity to study science in a rich learning environment could boost their interest and confidence in the subjects.
He said there was the need to strengthen the teaching and learning of literacy and numeracy at the basic level of education.
Professor Jonathan Fletcher, Dean of the School of Education and Leadership of the College of Education, University of Ghana, who authored the chapter on Education, said to address the gap, there was the need for direct policies to provide incentives for more people to go into the study and teaching of Science and Mathematics.
Incentives like the provision of allowances for students who train as science teachers will attract more people into that field.
Prof. Fletcher said attracting more people into the sciences would lead to the creation of more jobs in businesses like the oil industry which would in turn spur growth in that industry, as seen in the services industry.
The service sector remained the main driver of the economy in 2015 with a growth rate of 5.7 per cent.
“You must have a deliberate policy enticing people into science; that is what we do not have in this country,” he said.
The report also stressed on the need for increased funding to match the increase in access to education at all levels as the gap between access, improvements in infrastructure and funding in education had led to increasing poor quality of education especially in rural areas.
It said there was a very large disparity between the high-performing well-endowed and poor-performing deprived secondary schools.
“In 2009, the top 20 per cent schools produced over 70 percent of the total qualified candidates for tertiary education, and the bottom 20 per cent produced one per cent,” the report said.
Prof. Fletcher said Ghana had not been able to match the growth in access to growth in infrastructure adding that spreading the available resources thinly was eroding quality.