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06.06.2019 Feature Article

Sorry Minister, Basic Schools Not Ready For Robotics Studies

Sorry Minister, Basic Schools Not Ready For Robotics Studies
LISTEN JUN 6, 2019

I had decided not to comment on the new curriculum reforms in Primary Schools while being optimistic of its successful take off next academic year until it is evaluated to ascertain its success or otherwise. I cannot help but come out from my hiatus on the issue of curriculum following an announcement by the Deputy Minister of Education in charge of Basic and Secondary Education, Hon. Dr. Yaw Osei Adutwum that Robotics, a branch of Science studies would soon be introduced into the Basic school curriculum.

The Minister added that the exploits of the team from the Methodist Girls Senior High School (MEGHIS) who represented Ghana in an international competition held in the United States of America, beating world technological giants like Japan, Korea and the USA to land home the 19th edition of the Robofest competition makes Robotics a discipline which should be studied right in our Basic schools.

Robotics is an interdisciplinary branch of science and engineering that includes mechanical engineering, electronic engineering, information engineering, computer science and others. These technologies are used to develop machines (robots) that can be used as substitute for humans and replicate human actions (Wikipedia, 2019).

Are Ghanaian Basic Schools ready for the teaching and learning of Robotics? It is quite unfortunate the manner and precedent leading to the announcement of Robotics as a soon-to-study subject in our Basic Schools. In Curriculum studies, factors leading to curriculum change and innovation are clear. These include the political, economic, social, cultural and technological factors. How then, should success of students in a Robofest competition in USA warrant an introduction of Robotics in Basic Schools curriculum? Would the minister announce the introduction of Robotics in schools had the MEGHIS students lost the competition? What if some Ghanaian students had won an international Azonto dance competition, would Azonto dance be included in our school curriculum?

Introduction of new subjects into a curriculum is a well thought through process by experts. It is not a fluke and a knee jerk pronouncement made after successes of students chalked by Ghanaian students in international competitions.

Despite the promising advantages associated with the study of Robotics such as the building of technological confidence in learners and inventions, this idea of its introduction in Basic Schools curriculum should be quashed, without any equivocation. It will not stànd the test of time.

It is very difficult to teach the Natural and Integrated Sciences in our Basic Schools due to lack of teaching and learning materials, experimental equipment and apparatus and laboratories. Robotics is a purely practical subject which can best be studied in the abundance of materials. How many Basic Schools in Ghana have adequate and standard classroom blocks, not to talk of Science laboratories? Robotics is a blend of ICT and Science and Technology. How many Basic Schools have access to electrical supply, and how many have adequate computers? For how long shall our Basic Education be tinkered with?

In the unlikely event that Robotics is successfully taught and learnt in our Basic Schools with adequate materials and well trained teachers, will it address societal needs? Unemployment is one of Ghana's nightmares and the study of Robotics would lead to the production of robots and sophisticated machines that would replace our labour force, worsening the unemployment situation coupled with our fast growing population.

For now, Ghanaian Basic Schools need standard school blocks, Science and Computer laboratories, adequate teachers and adequate teaching and learning resources. Since these are in short supply in our schools, I am sorry to state that Basic Schools in Ghana are simply not ready to study Robotics.

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