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More girls pursue science

BY: Augustina Tawiah
Mrs Olivia Serwaa Opare, Director, Science Education Unit of GES

The Director, Science Education Unit of the Ghana Education Service, Mrs Olivia Serwaa Opare, has said that the Basic Education Certificate Examinations (BECE) results over the years reveal that more girls are now opting for Science in senior high schools (SHSs) in the country.

Describing the development as good news for the country, she indicated in a telephone interview that when girls engaged in practical lessons at the laboratories they changed their perception about the subject that  it was a difficult, expensive and a ‘no go’ area for them.

“We have, therefore, realised that when we give them the necessary interventions and make teaching more practical, more girls will develop the interest to pursue Science,” Mrs Opare pointed out.

Sameera Umaru (middle) and her mates, Matilda Oppong-Amoah (left), and Hillary Ansumaa Twum (right), all students of the Globen School at Tabora No. '1', a suburb of Accra, using pipette to measure the volume of liquid to determine its quantity during Science practical lesson. Picture: LYDIA ESSEL-MENSAH

International Day for Women and Girls in Science

The interview was part of the celebration of International Day for Women and Girls in Science which is observed on February 11 every year to promote full and equal access to and participation in Science for women and girls.

The theme for this year’s celebration was: ‘Women Scientists at the forefront of the fight against COVID-19”.

Challenges affecting girls’ interest in Science

Mrs Opare, however, noted that in spite of marginal increase of girls pursuing Science, there was still more work needed to be done at the basic level.

She said due to the lack of science resources including laboratories at the basic level of education, the study of Science was not attractive to girls at that level.

She further explained that when schools did not have science facilities for practicals, the teaching of Science was done in abstract, which does not whip up their interest in the subject, adding “if the materials that are supposed to help them understand and develop interest is not there, it makes learning difficult.”

Mrs Opare said most senior high schools have well-equipped laboratories to make the studying of Science easy but in  junior high schools to the preschool level, which is the foundation of education, they do not have the facilities.

She recommended that all science practicals must, therefore, be done at the basic level or preschool before children are introduced to the theory aspect.

She added that, the learning and teaching of Science must be activity-oriented, student-centred, and be full of experiments and motivation.

Mrs Opare attributed another lack of interest of girls in Science to the impatience of some teachers. This was because they presented the subject as one which was not meant for slow learners.

“We need encouraging and approachable science teachers who understand the girl-child. Girls like encouragement so if they get it they will like the subject,” she explained.

She called on society to also understand that whatever boys could do, girls could equally do as such, they should stop making the erroneous impression that Science is an exclusive for boys.

What the unit is doing to promote girls’ interest in Science

The Director outlined measures her outfit has instituted  to promote girls’ interest in Science to include the organisation of Science, Technology, Innovation and Mathematics teaching camps for students annually in both JHS and SHS, lower cut-off point for girls offering science at the university and various forms of support from Vodafone Ghana and UNESCO to girls pursuing Science.

She commended government, the Ministry of Education, management of the Ghana Education Service, JICA and AIMS for their contributions in promoting science education in the country.

She encouraged science teachers to use things within their immediate environment to teach science to make it real and interactive to the girl child.