Accra, Aug. 4, GNA - Mr Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu, Minister of Education Youth and Sports, on Tuesday inaugurated a National Information Communication Technology (ICT) and Science Resource Centre for the country's education sector.
It is to serve as a capacity building centre to facilitate and make the study of science in schools more meaningful and also help to coordinate with the 110 district science resource centres and ICT programmes in Senior Secondary Schools (SSS).
Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) provided a grant of three billion cedis for the completion of the project whilst Phillip Harriss of UK financed the building at the cost of 750 million cedis. Mr Baah-Wiredu said the Centre was the outcome of the vision of Mr Harry Sawyer, former Minister of Education, who established District Science Resource Centres throughout the country based in selected senior secondary schools to serve clusters of schools in their respective localities.
He said the need for a strong scientific and technology base as a pre-requisite for national development had been recognised since independence but because of inadequate resources, the few resources were directed to education in general.
Mr Baah-Wiredu said it was realised that a disproportionate number of students entering universities and other tertiary institutions were offering disciplines like Arts and Humanities rather than the sciences.
He said the primary cause identified, was the lack of science equipment and the defective teaching of science in SSS across the country, adding that, in order to promote science education, the Ministry set up district bookshops where science equipment, ICT equipment, all publishers, printers, writers and producers of software in each district attached to education offices were provided. He said because the Government was unable to adequately equip all SSS with science equipment, the MOEYS adopted the strategy of science resource centres.
He said the Centre should, therefore, be seen to be involved in the training of science teachers in both JSS and SSS to upgrade their skills in the delivery of the science teaching and learning. The Minister said JSS and SSS leavers, who were sitting at home, should also be trained.
He said the Centre should provide a platform for obtaining information through the Internet with the modern satellite facilities provided.
He said it should be possible to refurbish computers for use in schools, adding that 500 computers had arrived at Tema Harbour, which needed to be refurbished at Afienya youth leadership training institute for SSS.
He said the Ghana Education Service would be supported by the Ministry to procure new computers and accessories to replace the broken down ones in science laboratories.
The Centre houses the Science Education Unit and Computerised Schools Selection and Placement System Secretariat, both are under the Secondary Education Division of the GES.
Mr Michael Nsowah, Deputy Director General of the GES in-charge of Quality and Access, who read a speech on behalf of Rev Ama Afo Blay, Director General of GES, said 40 secretaries of the GES had already undergone a three-week training programme in ICT, Microsoft windows XP, File Management, Microsoft Excel, Power Point presentation and Internet technology.
He said another three-week programme for Directors of education at the Headquarters and Unit Heads was currently underway and would be followed by the training of Directors of Education and their personnel from the regions and districts.
Mr Gordon Wetherell, British High Commissioner to Ghana, said Philip Harris had been involved in the establishment of the science resource centres and the provision of buses to cater for students in satellite schools, which have no science facilities of their own. He said Philip Harris had trained 12 Ghanaian teachers in the UK, who on their return also trained 480 teachers in the country in addition to 80 science laboratory technicians.
He urged the Sector to do well to maintain the equipment to sustain its lifespan.
Mrs Kazuko Asai, Japanese Ambassador to Ghana, said JICA had dispatched more than 500 Japanese overseas cooperation volunteers to teach science and mathematics in secondary schools.
She said JICA was supporting capacity building for teachers to improve quality of education under the technical cooperation project called, the Improvement of Educational Achievement in Science, Technology and Mathematics in Basic Schools.