The Chairperson of the West African Examination Council (WAEC), Dr. Evelyn Kandakai has expressed concern about what she describes as “poor performance in Mathematics” by candidates that write the West African Senior Secondary Certificate Examination (WASSCE) in the sub- region.
According to her, the results of candidates in Science and particularly, Mathematics, over the years had not been encouraging with most candidates failing both subjects which were critical in national development.
Speaking at the 21st WAEC Endowment Fund Lecture in Accra on Monday, Dr. Kandakai called for a concerted approach by stakeholders to address the challenge confronting member states.
Professor Jonathan A. Fletcher, Dean of the Faculty of Education at the University of Ghana, who delivered the lecture, stressed on the need for educational institutions to adopt a new approach in the teaching and learning of Mathematics and Science.
He explained that a poor performance in the results of candidates meant the method for studying and teaching both subjects was inappropriate and wrongly used.
Citing some examination results in Ghana from 2007 to 2015, he said a graph representation of candidates results showed a fluctuated performance over the period and a sharp decline in the percentage aggregate of students that sat for both papers.
He said for instance the performance of candidates moved from 25 per cent passes in 2007 through 43 per cent in 2011, 49 per cent in 2012 and started declining from 36 per cent in 2013 to 32 per cent in 2014 and 24 per cent last year.
“Science has a similar story. In 2007, percentage in passes was at 23 per cent. It went up to 42 per cent in 2011, 56 per cent in 2013 and started falling in 2014 at 49 per cent, 28 per cent in 2014 and 23 per cent last year,” he said.
According to him, the situation was not only peculiar to WASSCE but to various Mathematics and Science examinations written from primary level up to the university saying “the source of this problems begins in primary education”.
He pointed to a National Education Assessment test carried out in 2013 that showed that students in Primary Class Three and Six had difficulty in understanding numbers and numerals, basic operations in Mathematics, measurement, shape and space as well as collect and handle data.
Prof. Fletcher said pupils who scored 35 per cent on the NEA test were considered as having minimum competency in the subjects while those who scored 55 per cent or even better had proficiency in both subjects.
“However, for Primary Six Mathematics that year, only approximately 11 per cent of pupils reached proficiency while 22 per cent in Primary Three attained same. For both classes approximately 40 per cent of pupils failed to achieve even minimum competency in Mathematics,” he stressed.
Prof. Fletcher believed strongly that concrete steps needed to be taken by stakeholders to reverse the trend.
According to him, for any nation to progress and catch up with other developing countries it should attach great importance to the teaching and learning of both subjects beginning from the primary level.
By Charles Amankwa