General News of Wednesday, 15 December 2004

Source: --

Ghana sucks at maths and science

... second to last in world study
... 150 schools took part in study

Ghana eighth-graders are behind their peers across the globe in science and math according to an international review of school performance.

The 2003 test results released Tuesday placed Ghana as one of the worst of several countries tested for Grade 8-level mathematics and science proficiency.

Of the 45 countries ranked in the eighth-grade survey, Ghana was 44th in both mathematics and science - outperforming only South Africa.

Ghanaian eighth-graders scored 276, on average, in mathematics. This was far below the international average (466) as well as the average scores of their peers in 44 of the 45 other participating countries (see table I below).

Students in all the other African countries that took part in the survey - Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco and Botswana, outperformed Ghanaian pupils.

Singapore, Korea and Hong Kong were among the top performers.

Ghana did not fare any better in science. Ghanaian eighth-graders score 255 points - far below the international average of 473 points - and under performed their peers (see table 2 below). Ghanaian eighth-graders performed lower, on average, than their peers in all the other African countries except South Africa.

The findings were made by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement's third four-yearly international mathematics and science assessment project.

The Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study, or TIMSS, is a test of curriculum taught in all participating countries, from chemistry and physics to geometry and algebra. It is a respected benchmark of a country's performance in primary and middle grades.

Ghana did not take part in a similar study in 1999.

The Ghana leg of the study was conducted among about 5690 Grade 8 pupils in 150 schools across the country in 2003.

The new report is available at

Table 1: Average mathematics scale scores of eighth-grade students, by country: 2003

International average = 466

Country Average score
Taipei 585
Malaysia 508
Latvia 508
Russian Federation 508
Slovak Republic 508
Australia 505
United States 504
Lithuania4 502
Sweden 499
Scotland 498
(Israel) 496
New Zealand 494
Slovenia 493
Italy 484
Armenia 478
Serbia4 477
Bulgaria 476
Romania 475
Norway 461
Moldova, Republic of 460
Cyprus 459
(Macedonia, Republic of) 435
Lebanon 433
Jordan 424
Iran, Islamic Republic of 411
Indonesia 411
Tunisia 410
Egypt 406
Bahrain 401
Palestinian National Authority 390
Chile 387
Morocco 387
Philippines 378
Botswana 366
Saudi Arabia 332
Ghana 276
South Africa 264

Table 2: Average science scale scores of eighth-grade students, by country: 2003

International average 466
 Country  Average score
Singapore 578

Chinese Taipei 571

Korea, Republic of 558

Hong Kong SAR2,3 556

Estonia 552

Japan 552

Hungary 543

Netherlands2 536

(United States) 527

Australia 527

Sweden 524

Slovenia 520

New Zealand 520

Lithuania4 519

Slovak Republic 517

Belgium-Flemish 516

Russian Federation 514

Latvia 512

Scotland2 512

Malaysia 510

Norway 494

Italy 491

(Israel) 488

Bulgaria 479

Jordan 475

Moldova, Republic of 472

Romania 470

Serbia4 468

Armenia 461

Iran, Islamic Republic of 453

(Macedonia, Republic of) 449

Cyprus 441

Bahrain 438

Palestinian National Authority 435

Egypt 421

Indonesia4 420

Chile 413

Tunisia 404

Saudi Arabia 398

(Morocco) 396

Lebanon 393

Philippines 377

Botswana 365

Ghana 255

South Africa 244

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