Mrs Olivia Serwaa Opare, the Acting Head of Science Education Unit at Ghana Education Service, has urged Integrated Science teachers to prioritise the practical aspect of the subject to build the understanding and core competencies of their students for national development.
She said though most secondary schools had been resourced with laboratory equipment and materials, some teachers were reluctant to engage the students in practicals, a situation which limited their understanding and affected their academic performances.
Mrs Opare was speaking to the Ghana News Agency, in an interview, on the sidelines of the 2019 Ghana Science Olympiad Competition, held in Gomoa Fetteh in the Central Region.
"I always tell our teachers that it is imperative for us to teach Science in the practical way because this will make the learners much more interested in the subject," she emphasised.
"The equipment and materials are available except that some of them don't see the need to expose students, especially, non science students, to the use of the practical materials.
"Some of them complain that it is time consuming; but it is the right of these students to become practically-oriented. We need to disabuse their minds that Science is a difficult subject".
The three-day Olympiad Competition is a policy intervention by the Ministry of Education and Ghana Education Service (GES) under the Secondary Education Improvement Project (SEIP).
It seeks to equip students from underserved schools with critical thinking skills and expose them to the practical aspects of Science and Mathematics towards improving their knowledge to better understand their world and to choose Science-related careers for accelerated national development.
It also aims at generally promoting the practical teaching and learning of Science, Technology and Mathematics.
Mrs Opare urged the teachers to make the subject an all student-inclusive one to whip up the interests, of all, especially of non Science students.
On the Science Olympiad programme, Mrs Opare said, as part of efforts to expand the Programme's outreach, the Ministry, through the GES, and the Ghana Science Olympiad (GSO) Board, would decentralise the process to ensure that hard to reach schools also benefited.
"Come next year, it is the vision of GES to expand the programme to the regions, so we will decentralise it and it will be done at the regional level and hopefully, to the district level one day, and I believe doing that will help bring about much improvement."
Teachers, she said, would also be better empowered through continuous training to ensure that they were exposed to these lab instruments and chemicals to enable them to better impact such knowledge and skills to students.
She lauded the Government, the Minister of Education and the Director- General of the GES for their continuous support towards improving the teaching and learning of Science and Mathematics.
Some beneficiary students who spoke to the GNA also lauded the initiative for the exposure it had offered them.
"With regard to the practical questions, we had the theoretical knowledge about most of them; but the lab equipment were unfamiliar to us. We had not seen them, before let alone getting to know how to use them, especially, the Physics aspect," David Owusu Bosompem, a Form Three Science student of Accra High SHS said.
"I really wish that this programme will be held frequently for us, even on vacations, because it will improve upon our performances a lot," Victoria Nyame, another Form three Science student of the Adventist SHS in Kumasi, Ashanti Region said.
"I have learnt a lot from the programme because what we have been doing here is quite different from that of school. This is more practical! Something we haven't done in our school yet, so this is my first time of doing such a practical work."
In all, 454 students selected from 227 schools from across the country, participated in the programme, held under the theme: "Science, Mathematics and Technology for Accelerated Development."
There were two participants from each school.