You are here: HomeWallOpinionsArticles2021 11 22Article 1406953

Opinions of Monday, 22 November 2021

Columnist: Christian Foli

NSMQ is a waste of time and resources

The National Science and Maths Quiz is an annual competition held for senior high schools The National Science and Maths Quiz is an annual competition held for senior high schools

The National Science and Maths Quiz (NSMQ) is an annual nationwide program that provides a platform for senior high school students to compete in the areas of science and maths to win a single trophy and some cash prizes.

The program, which was incepted in 1993 and is currently produced by Primetime Limited, has the aim of promoting the study of science and mathematics in Ghana.

NSMQ is heavily cushioned by numerous prestigious sponsors including GOIL, GCB, GTP, ABSA Bank just to mention a few. The annual quiz is one of the most anticipated, tension-filled, rivalry-inciting, sensational TV programs in Ghana.

However, I have two general opinions about NSMQ which independently amount to my support or disdain for the quiz if I may say. These two sides are not necessarily mutually exclusive but seem to have been made so by the quiz that has failed to totally evolve after thriving for over two decades in a science-retarded nation as Ghana. I would be explaining my two opinions in turns.

To begin with, if we want to be nonchalant about the aim of NSMQ, it will be easy to drop every penny of support in the money box of passion for the quiz as a top-notch, worthwhile program. And for that cause, isn't it? I mean it is as entertaining as it is sensationally suspenseful. And the joy, unity and energy it generates among old students as they rally behind their alma mater can only be rivaled by the passion for football.

After all, who wouldn’t love to brag for a whole year that their school is the best after they’ve lifted the NSMQ trophy? Who would want to miss a chance at slaying a rival school on national TV? What would you trade for the (even if brief) moment of pleasure a successfully executed “agenda” brings? If for nothing at all, these are some of the fruits we reap from NSMQ whenever its season arrives.

On the other hand, in as much as the ecstasy the competition produces is greatly desirable, it’s high time we asked ourselves whether that’s all NSMQ can give in return for the investment of time and resources. Do we incite these young, brilliant lads to comb voluminous materials, sacrifice their sleep and invest their passions in this quiz just to win cash prizes and maybe a trophy or scholarship?

Is that what was meant when the quiz was incepted to promote science and mathematics? If any nation has the “luxury” of inciting its future generation to “chew” and “pour” materials and “guess” answers on science questions on national television, that nation certainly shouldn’t be our beloved, science-backward underdeveloped country Ghana who trails behind many sister countries in this very area. Aren’t we tired of this ancient style of education that has kept us grounded as a third-world nation?

Can’t we rather maximize the intelligence of these young lads by challenging them to solve practical problems and dare to tread the path of invention? With all due respect, what problems do the “problems of the day” of NSMQ solve in our country? How does knowing “circle”, for instance, is the answer to a riddle on the first clue promote science education?

A big round of applause to Academic City College, Accra College of Medicine among others who invest in providing scholarship packages to some of the contestants. Hats off to the brilliant Sci-Tech Fair initiative by NSMQ but there is room for more.

We can’t keep displaying to the world how “brilliant” our students are in being able to guess or regurgitate answers they’ve already read in a textbook while we keep importing almost all technological devices from other countries who, obviously, are making better use of their brains.

NSMQ is a wonderful platform that gives us the privilege to see how brilliant our younger generation is. But until we are able to successfully translate this brilliance into innovation and solving practical problems, NSMQ will only remain an entertainment show that almost brings its investments to naught and mocks our backwardness in science and technology.