Bright Simons Criticises National Science & Maths Quiz Only For Testing Mere Memory Recall

Bright Simons Criticises National Science & Maths Quiz Only For Testing Mere Memory Recall

  • Bright Simons has identified what he calls longstanding flaws and biases of the popular National Science and Maths Quiz
  • According to the social innovator, the questions put to SHS students on the quiz show lack insight and analytical rigour
  • The honourary vice president of IMANI Centre for Policy and Education also faulted the organisers of the show for making it male dominated

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Respected social innovator, Bright Simons, has said it is disappointing that the popular National Science & Maths Quiz (NSMQ) test only memory recall of competitors.

Bright Simons on NSMQ
Bright Simons and contestants of the NSMQ. Source: UGC
Source: UGC

In a post on Twitter on Monday, June 27, 2022, the honorary vice president of IMANI Centre for Policy and Education said the science competition was repeating the mistake of the Ghanaian education system.

“If you ask someone whether copper can be refined by electrolysis, or how 'hard' water differs from 'heavy' water, you may think you are probing their deeper understanding of Redox or isotopes, but the truth is that neither is an effective enough question for distinguishing between a good medium-term memoriser and a truly effective thinker, not in the sciences and not in many other disciplines either.

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“My lifelong struggle with Ghanaian education stems from unresolved frustrations with the disregard for this important issue.

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“Feats of memory are no longer as impressive as they used to be as the world continues to shift emphasis from knowledge of facts to the essence of facts,” he Tweeted.

The NSMQ is the longest-running independent TV production promoting Senior High School pure science education in Ghana.

According to Primetime, orignators of the quiz, it is very popular with not only its main target group – SHS students – but also with parents and, especially, with former students (old boys and girls), who take great pride in the performance of their schools on this programme.

Bright Simons, founder of mPedigree, also criticised what he called the persistent male dominance of the quiz show.

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“The conventional wisdom in the literature on the subject is that, generally, women outperform men on memory efficiency, just as men tend to outperform women on spatial and navigational tasks (perhaps why top female formula one drivers are so rare).
“Should the female students not be sweeping the contest if my assertions about memory bias were true? Actually that can be explained adequately by another bias. Fairly extensive data, from the likes of Pew datasets, show that females excel in the life sciences but not so much in the physical sciences (perhaps why Ghanaian medical schools continue to see such a strong showing by female 'valedictorians' as the number of women trainees grows).”

In Bright Simons view, the questions asked in the NSMQ do show a much stronger emphasis on the physical sciences for the simple reason of the SHS curriculum being a basic science curriculum.

Meet the former NSMQ contestant who now doubles as an army officer and a Scientist

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National Cathedral important despite other pressing issues - Ameyaw Debrah has reported in a previous story that a publication on the official website of the NSMQ scheme has highlighted the life journey of one of its earliest contestants.

Laurinda Adusu-Donkor, now a military officer and a biomedical scientist represented her school, St Roses Senior High School in the maiden edition of the NSMQ back in 1994.

According to the report, now Lt Col Laurinda Xolali Adusu-Donkor along with her teammates got eliminated from the quiz by Achimota School in the Southern sector semifinals.

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