Sunday, November 6, 2022.
I have followed the National Science and Maths Quiz (NSMQ) for many years, in fact, since it was started almost three decades ago. I have seen it evolve into a competition with great national interest. Old students support their schools, reminding me of what was done in sports in the past. The organisers must be applauded for generating so much national interest in a science and maths competition.
Good science students look forward to the competition and learn hard for it. This is commendable. At the Junior High School, some students decide which Senior High Schools they will attend because of the NSMQ. Many medical doctors have told me they attended their Senior High schools because of the NSMQ. Hopefully, we shall find a way to channel the ‘rote knowledge’ these brilliant NSMQ contestants have into solving and preventing national problems.
Last year I wrote about the possible role of ‘home advantage’ in the competition and suggested that the competition be held in different cities/towns across Ghana. The Accra schools would appreciate what other schools go through to compete in Accra. This year, I have written about how the competition has evolved to require more ‘aggression and endurance’ to win, which favours boys, making it unlikely for a Girls school to win the competition (coupled with other physiologic factors for females that many overlook) [1, 2]. I have received a lot of backlash but I still hold on to this opinion.
I have suggestions to the organisers of the NSMQ to consider to increase interest in science and mathematics in Ghana, especially for girls:
A. Girls schools should have a different competition from boys schools. Mixed schools can present contestants to compete in both competitions – girls for the girls competition, and boys for the boys’ competition.
The implication is that there will be girls who will be champions every year. More girls will look forward to the competition, and prepare for it.
B. All nine schools that get to the semifinals should be given the opportunity to present two teams (teams A and B) to the competition the following year.
I find it sad that the ‘fourth best science’ students in Presbyterian Boys’ Senior High School (Presec), Legon and Prempeh College could not come out nationally to ‘showcase their skills’ when they possibly could be better than the best in many schools, and could even win the competition under certain circumstances.
A similar arrangement has been tried in athletics where sometimes previous (defending) champions and world record holders who couldn’t qualify for games (because of abundance of talent in their countries) are given ‘wild cards’ to compete.
The NSMQ will continue to evolve. We have to come up with new arrangements to further increase interest in science and mathematics in Ghana.
The Ghana National Science and Maths Quiz: why a Girls school is unlikely to win it
NSMQ: Why a girls school is unlikely to win it