Kofi Asare, Executive Director for Africa Education Watch (EduWatch), has called on government to provide befitting Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) facilities for students in junior high schools.
Mr Asare intimated that the facilities for STEM students in the country is woefully inadequate and as such there is the need to augment the number of these special schools for students. The facilities, he indicated, will help in the realization and execution of government’s strategic education plan.
Mr Asare made this call following President Akufo-Addo’s sod cutting on Wednesday, January 12, 2022, for the construction of the Accra STEM Academy, a school, dedicated principally to the teaching and learning of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. The Academy, which will be constructed within the next twenty-four months will be completed from kindergarten to high school, with an expected population of some two thousand students.
“What encourages me more is when every junior high school in this country is given a befitting STEM facility, so that students in primary six when they graduate to junior high school will also have the opportunity of studying robotics, engineering and the internet of things… Government has a STEM policy and the STEM policy with the education strategic plan of government sets out clear targets. The targets include achieving the 60/40 STEM ratio in our institutions”.Mr Kofi Asare
Increment of STEM education in Ghana
Mr Asare indicated that if government desires to achieve an increment in STEM in terms of the numbers, subscriptions and in a balanced manner across the country, then it must first prioritize providing facilities in the “10,000 plus junior high schools” across the country which do not have STEM facilities.
“The junior high schools is now just three rooms with no facility. So, after you have provided that, you move to the next step to ensure that the 4,000 primary schools, which is 25% of primary schools that do not even have a junior high school at all, provide them with same and equip these ones”.Mr Kofi Asare
In addition to catering for the need of the entire population, the EduWatch boss emphasized that when the issue of facilities are addressed, government can now set up the STEM Academy to be a “model centre” which will be subscribed to by about 1% or less of the population. That approach, Mr Asare expressed, would have “gladdened” his heart.
Commenting on whether government is being hasty in the construction of the STEM Academy, he revealed that it is a classic case of a cart which is “way before the horse” because the target in the education strategic plan, by the ministry for education, is to ensure that every junior high school has STEM facilities and teachers.
Mr Asare noted that it is “complementary” to have this specialist approach to building a master facility training centre targeting and growing certain children from kindergarten level to senior high school levels to be experts. Nonetheless, in a situation where some junior high schools do not have “computer laboratories”, adequate number of STEM teachers and government has not made a “conscious effort” to equip these schools, it defeats the purpose of the initiative.
“If you have not yet made a conscious effort to equip junior high schools with STEM facilities across the country and you want to start by visibly building model academies, one in each region, then obviously you are solving the problem for just one percent of the population or less…”Mr Kofi Asare