Deputy Education Minister in charge of Basic and Secondary Education, Yaw Osei Adutwum, has revealed an ambitious project by the government to build virtual labs at Junior High Schools (JHS) to improve science education at that level.
The Virtual Laboratory, christened a playground for experimentation, is an interactive environment for creating and conducting simulated experiments and consists of domain-dependent simulation programmes, experimental units that encompass data files, tools that operate on these objects.
Speaking on current programme, PM Express, on the Joy News channel on MultiTV, Dr Adutwum said some $100 million has been approved by President Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo for the project dubbed Basic Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (B-STEM) programme.
Reacting to concerns that there are not enough well-equipped laboratories to facilitate practicals across schools in Ghana, he said “we have to look at how we can leapfrog as a nation. If we don’t have 'leapfrog' at the back of our minds we always take our selves so hard and at the end of the day, we give up and say we can’t get there."
“Other countries, even now America, have realised that we may not be able to do what we call wet-lab – where all schools have lab equipment for biology, physics etc. So now what they are doing is what we call the virtual lab. It allows you to do the experiment as if you were in a lab but on the computer,” the Minister explained on PM Express on Monday.
He said the government is convinced that firming the science education fundamentals at the JHS level is as important at as it is at the SHS level.
He also revealed an ongoing plan to adopt the Next Generation Science (NGS) curriculum that is used for science education in the United States.
He said NGS tightens the curriculum by providing teachers with instructions on how to treat topics.
“It’s a multi-faceted way of approaching [science education],” he said, stating that it will holistically incorporate instruction and assessment of science topics.
The plans outlined by the Minister on Monday feed into the government’s initiatives aimed at boosting STEM education across basic and senior high education levels.