SPEECH DELIVERED AT OPENING CEREMONY OF THE INTERNATIONAL MATHEMATICS CONFERENCE OF CEMATHS
On behalf of the government and people of Ghana, I am honoured to welcome our international guests to this country and all of you to this important conference.
I am delighted that the Centre for Excellence in Mathematics (CEMATHS), under the distinguished patronage of Osagyefuo Amoatia Ofori Panin, the Okyenhene of the Akyem-Abuakwa State is spearheading efforts aimed at providing a student-centered approach for teaching mathematics.
It is a fact that many young people develop a phobia for mathematics early in life. The subject matter in many cases appears daunting for some. The perception is that mathematics, like science, is only for exceptionally brilliant children. This has been a great stumbling block in education in the country.
Indeed, only last year, the president of the Ghana Mathematics Society, Prof. Sitsofe Anku, advocated a revolution in the teaching and studying of mathematics in Ghana to help advance the development of the country. He was of the view that the failure of Ghanaians to overcome their aversion of mathematics was a matter of great concern.
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, my government is committed to the training of mathematics teachers through improved methods of teaching to enable them deliver their programmes in a more effective and creative manner to children in our schools.
In our manifesto leading up to the last elections, we made it clear that an NPP government would aggressively promote Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education. It was our manifesto pledge to leverage technology to popularize the teaching and learning of mathematics by giving children in every part of the country access to first class mathematics teachers at every level. We must demystify mathematics and turn the country into a mathematics-friendly nation.
CEMATHS’ aims and activities fit neatly into our vision as a government, and I commend you for this initiative.
Our overall goal is to establish ten STEM centres across Ghana as reference points for the coordination of the various components of the programme. We believe that the STEM approach is key to our industrial take off as a country, through innovation and research. Ghana, and by extension, Africa, has enormous talent and potential to power the continent into the age of cutting edge technology and research. We have a duty therefore to provide the stimulus through innovative teaching methods to empower our young citizens to take advantage of the enormous opportunities that the twenty-first century offers.
I am delighted to inform you that in October 2017, The Executive Board of UNESCO approved the hosting of a Centre of Excellence in Mathematics and Allied Sciences in Ghana under the auspices of the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences, Ghana (AIMS GHANA).
The new Centre of Excellence to be hosted in Ghana is a direct response to my government’s efforts to scale up science and mathematics education for socio-economic transformation in the country.
With the coming into effect of the Centre’s operations, AIMS Ghana will be embedded in UNESCO’s network of Category II institutes and centres which are formal arrangements approved by the General Conference of UNESCO. AIMS Ghana will take part in UNESCO’s activities in the Basic Sciences, STEM Education and Research. The Centre will also closely cooperate with UNESCO, in particular, the International Basic Sciences Programme (IBSP) in developing mathematical sciences; STEM education and research resources activities, as well as provide support to teacher training, thereby contributing to UNESCO’s actions towards building national, regional and international capacities in science, in line with its Global Priority Africa Programme. The Centre will further contribute to Ghana’s efforts to achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 1, 4, 5 and 9 of the United Nations 2030 Agenda.
AIMS Ghana’s cooperation with UNESCO will foster the development of activities in STEM education and research areas, including science-teaching materials and contribute to the work of UNESCO in promoting science learning and teaching at national, sub-regional and regional levels. The overarching aim is to reduce the deficit in schooling in the mathematical sciences and foster the blossoming of talented young African scientists. Ghana is ready to take on this enormous responsibility and become a hub for the teaching of the STEM subjects on this continent.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I am particularly confident that your deliberations during this conference will explore ways of unearthing the mathematics geniuses within our society, and that you will share your rich experiences with each other in this regard. I assure you that my government is willing and ready to engage with you at all levels in our quest to support our young children in the realization of their talents and abilities.
It is my pleasure to formally declare this conference duly opened, and I thank you most sincerely for your time and your attention.
May God continue to bless us all.