Professor Joseph Ghartey Ampiah, Department of Science and Mathematics Education, University of Cape Coast (UCC), has said the 2012 Ministry of Education (MOE) Science curriculum for basic schools was loaded with too much content and unrealistic expectation.
The syllabus, he said, also concentrated very heavily on content knowledge, scientific concepts and theories with little or no attention being paid to scientific literacy that enabled students to cope with the applications of science to make informed judgment about scientific issues affecting their daily lives.
He therefore admonished the curriculum developers to revisit the 2012 Primary and Junior High School (JHS) curriculum and address the issue of how much content was necessary at that level to be able to have an improved scientific literacy society.
Prof. Ghartey Ampiah was speaking on the topic “Pre-Tertiary Science Education in Ghana: Curriculum, Teaching, Resource and Student’s Performance” at an inaugural lecture organized by the UCC on Thursday.
He explained that with a loaded curriculum and unrealistic goals for children at the basic school level, the attempt to delineate what aspects of science were important to learn and what should be studied beyond basic science literacy would be beneficial to students, but this had proven elusive in Ghana.
He noted that pupils in primary schools, given their age, level of comprehension and the resources available for teaching them the subject, could not exhibit these skills and knowledge required by the syllabus.
“Basic electronics was introduced in the 2012 MOE curriculum at the primary to JHS level. A tall order for JHS students that have no laboratories, no equipment for carrying out experiments to develop the 16 science process skills quoted by the curriculum”.
“The science curriculum also expects JHS students to experiment both to physically explore and discuss knowledge within their environment and in the laboratory to be able to contribute new scientific principles and ideas to the body of knowledge already existing in their culture. This is incredible,” he stressed.
He stated that the content of science curriculum at the Basic school level have been changed four times from 1987 to 2007 but, the expectations of science curriculum balancing profile dimensions in the right proportions had since not been achieved .
The education professor argued that the philosophy of the curriculum developers on relative importance of the three profile dimensions did not match the structure of the curriculum and has therefore confused teachers as to where to lay the emphasis.
A study conducted by the Institute of Education in 2015, showed that out of 2416 teacher trainees who took part in an untrained teacher education programme, 97 per cent of them failed in a test made up of primary, JHS and SHS content.
He said the analysis from the answers given clearly indicated that the teachers teaching the students at the basic school themselves have little or no knowledge on the subject.
He said the West African Examination Council’s(WAEC) results for Integrated science for the past five years have shown disturbing trends but the underlying factors in the decline in general performance were not being addressed.
Prof. Ampiah emphasized that it was ironic because from his investigations, questions set for Primary, Junior and Senior High Schools were predominantly on knowing… with a few on applying and reasoning.
He therefore recommended to WEAC and other examinable bodies, schools and colleges to raise the level of their questions for the students to incorporate higher order questions.
Prof. Domwini D. Kuupole, Vice Chancellor, UCC who chaired the programme stressed that it would take a collective responsibility to address the numerous challenges in relation to curriculum, teaching, resources and student performances.
He called on the Government and all stakeholders to invest in the human, material and logistics of science education to be able to develop as a nation.