Ghanaian Catholic Schools Hold Contest to Boost Performance in Science Subjects

With statistics from the Ghana Education Service (GES) indicating poor performance in Science and Mathematics subjects in the country, 21 Catholic Basic Schools in Ghana converged in the country’s capital city, Accra, to battle in a National Science and Mathematics quiz aimed to boost their performance in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields.

The three-day Brain Battle National Science and Mathematics Quiz for Catholic Basic Schools, which ended Sunday, February 9, 2020 is aimed at enhancing the knowledge of pupils in Ghana in the study of STEM.

At a Press briefing in Accra on February 6 to kick-start the competition among the 21 Schools, the Episcopal Chair of the Commission for Education in Ghana, Archbishop John Bonaventure Kwofie said the quiz was being held to build a strong moral character in both Catholic and non-Catholic pupils who go Catholic schools.

“The Catholic Church has always stood for deep-seated knowledge of science, sound moral life and character. These are the values we have been instilling in pupils of Catholic schools to build a strong moral character,” said Archbishop Kwofie.

He added, “As you seek knowledge and intellectual capacities, seek good character also to become the real Ghanaian. Building intellectual capacity goes together with seeking good character.”


The quiz, the Archbishop noted, was in line with the Catholic Church’s contribution to education, evident by the number of educational institutions the Church has established in the country.

Highlighting the importance of STEM courses, the Ghanaian Prelate said the competition, particularly its practical aspect, would help unleash the students’ innovative skills, which can propel the development of the country.

“As this country continues to advance, the need for science has become apparent and we need to have many people in the area of science and technology,” the Catholic Prelate said.

The National Catholic Secretariat Education Directorate in partnership with the Cocktail Media (a youth media NGO) introduced the Science and Maths Quiz programme for Catholic Basic Schools in Ghana in September 2019 and was, at that time, launched by Archbishop Kwofie.

Mrs. Doris Ashun, the General Manager of Catholic Schools in Ghana said a majority of pupils in Ghanaian schools were not Catholic, underscoring the need for the quiz to be appreciated by Catholics and non-Catholics alike.

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“The notion that running the contest with Catholic Basic Schools benefits only Catholics is an erroneous impression that must be addressed. Over 50 percent of the children in the Catholic Schools from the basic level to the tertiary are non-Catholics who value the known discipline and excellence associated with Catholic education,” said Mrs. Ashun.

Hinting on the possibility of spreading the quiz to Non Catholic institutions, the General Manager of Catholic Schools in Ghana added, “This programme is already involving several non-Catholic children who are in Catholic Basic Schools, and by extension the entire nation is benefiting through the national broadcast of the content of this quiz and since the Catholic institution remains a missionary one, this quiz will soon open its doors to non-Catholic Basic Schools to also register to contest.”

Mrs. Ashun exuded confidence that the Science and Math Quiz was set to introduce practical perspective that she said would not only allow the children to learn and implement what they had learnt but also to improve upon the impact of science on the young ones.

Urging parents and teachers to encourage and groom more girls in the competition, Mrs. Ashun said, “The belief that men study and work at the industrialized institutions while women nurture the learner at home should be a thing of the past.”

She highlighted the need to empower science and mathematics teachers saying, “At the Basic school level, it is important to get science education right and to groom teachers who inspire and are able to bring out the very best in our children through creative, exciting and practical teaching methods.”


On this basis, she continued, “the programme is also meant to highly equip the science and mathematics teachers to ensure maximum output by the candidates.”

“As educators and innovators, we believe among many other things that practical science and mathematics should begin at the Basic School level and be nurtured to provide a solid foundation which can then be built upon at the Senior High School level, and finally be advanced at the tertiary level for national development.”

The Brain Battle National Science and Mathematics Quiz for Catholic Basic Schools is a three-round contest revolving around the content of Agricultural Science, Chemistry, Physics, Biology, Mathematic, with associated test on practical knowledge.

Part of its practical science components include a ‘Hot Lab’ Science practical question that requires contestants to use provided apparatus to investigate and explain a concept.

Mrs. Ashun said the practical activity helped the learners to develop problem solving skills and unique abilities to think ‘outside the box’.

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The other exercise is a compulsory Coordinate Geometry exercise, which is aimed to help learners to enhance their three-dimensional analytical abilities and their intellect.

Mrs. Ashun pointed out the importance of innovation saying, “In today’s globalized world, scientific innovation is vital for economic competitiveness, quality of life, and national security. Much of the future job growth in the world will be in STEM.”

This situation, she stressed, raises concerns about Africa’s preparedness for STEM jobs, given the small numbers of domestic students who enter these fields.

She cited former U.S. President Barrack Obama who, considering a STEM report that had predicted that by 2020, 80 percent of all future jobs would require a STEM education, urged institutions of learning “to prepare tomorrow’s leaders in this regard.”

Mrs. Ashun said that the Ministry of Education was working on providing STEM Centre’s at Senior High Schools and Basic Schools level across the country to enhance the teaching and learning of Science.

She said, “Beyond that, the Ministry is looking at the training of Science teachers to make sure that their training reflects the realities and dynamics of Science Education for the 21st Century.”

Contestant Moses Baidoo of the St. Francis of Assisi Basic School at Anaji Estate in the Sekondi-Takoradi Diocese in the Western Region was optimistic that this competition would help propel students to higher places especially during their secondary school.

“It is an eye opener for me to be a part of this historic event. Winning from the regional level to the national is an indication that we have a lot to learn by acquiring knowledge in science and mathematics,” he said.