October 14, 2016 By Joseph S. Margai
The founder of Thomas Gbamanja Science Foundation Sierra Leone, Prof. Sahr P. Thomas Gbamanja, who also doubles as Acting Deputy Vice Chancellor of Fourah Bay College, has said that most students in Sierra Leone lose interest in science because their teachers mystify it.
He made this statement in an interview with Concord Times at his Fourah Bay College office yesterday, adding that science is fun and natural as people learn about the world and nature. He said that in order to get people to understand it, one has to know how to teach it and let people appreciate what science is all about.
He said if teachers let their students understand that science is about the world, life and things through their methodology, the latter would be interested to study it.
Prof. Gbamanja noted that the problem lies in the teaching methodology, unavailability of science equipment, and lack of atmosphere and ambiance to study science in some of our schools. He added that everyone is studying science through theoretical means, which is not so bad because the students are coming up with so-called good grades at the West Africa Senior Secondary Certificate Examination.
“I had the privilege as a member of the National Board of Education to visit several schools in Freetown last Christmas, an assignment given to us by the Minister of Education, and we were able to visit laboratories, and we noticed that most of them were doing alternative to practical, which is theory,” he said.
“What I do in the Thomas Gbamanja Science Foundation in Kono is that I organise science activities. When we first launched it in January 2016, we had science composition which I gave them titled “Science is Power” and incidentally it was one student in SSS II that wrote the best essay and I bought a laptop for him,” he said, adding that pupils in SSS III&IV also participated in the essay writing competition.
He disclosed that he organised a science debate titled “Science had brought more harm than good to the world” and that it was very exciting as parents, Paramount Chiefs, teachers and students in Kono witnessed the event.
Prof. Gbamanja disclosed that he also organised a science fare, with 10 schools participating and scientists choosing the school that did best project, which won a computer.
“Because of these activities some of the schools in Kono that were not doing science have started to do now. I even encouraged them to form science clubs and I’m going to grade and give a prize to the best science club. I have noticed that a number of parents now want their children to do science,” he said.
He said his desire was to get a science safe haven in Kono and put a lot of science equipment there, adding that it would enable schools that do not have science laboratory and equipment to see science at work and learn and do experiments.
“Interestingly, I was in Kono last week where I visited 10 schools and it is disheartening to know that there is none of them that have a good laboratory. A semblance of a lab was only found at Koidu Secondary School and the equipment were in cartons and are taken out when the students want to do practical, which is different from what I saw in my school days,” he said and noted that most science students in Kono have not even seen a test tube or a microscope, adding that his foundation will have to buy them for the science safe haven.
Prof. Gbamanja disclosed that the foundation’s vision is to nurture science minded youths to champion scientific development strides in global development initiatives, adding that its drive is to help a growing scientist in need morally, intellectually, mentally and physically.
He also intimated that he plans to expand the Foundation’s work in the north, south and Western Area in the future.