68% of tertiary students study humanities

Dr. Matthew Opoku-Prempeh (Minister for Education)

Of the 407,516 students enrolled in tertiary institutions during the 2015/2016 academic year, 68 percent were admitted into humanities programmes – a situation that makes nonsense of government’s 60 percent science enrollment target.

According to data from the National Accreditation Board (NAB) – the body responsible for maintaining standards in the tertiary education sector – a total of 277,514 students were enrolled into humanities during the 2015/2016 academic year, which is 53 percent more than the 130,002 students enrolled into sciences.

The figure, which covers both public and private tertiary institutions including Colleges of Education and Specialised/ Professional Institutions, shows that government is still far from achieving a science and technology-driven economy – which many observers believe explains the over-dependence on imports and the attendant joblessness.

A breakdown of the data further shows that private institutions are more science-oriented than the public ones.

For instance, out of a total of 82,206 students enrolled by private tertiary institutions, 50,414 study humanities programmes while 31,792 are in science programmes – representing a difference of 18,622.

On the other hand, out of a total of 315,907 registered by public tertiary institutions during the same year humanities absorbed 218,217 students – more than twice the 97,690 enrolled into the sciences.

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Recognising the role science education can play in making the country competitive on the global front, governments over the years have introduced several measures, including scholarships, to promote science and technology…but with little result.

For example, since coming into office in January 2017 President Nana Akufo-Addo has indicated his desire to undertake educational reforms, all aimed at refocusing the sector to be science-oriented.

According him, it is the aim of his government to enrol more science students in the country’s educational system, “So as to achieve our initial target of 60% science students in our technical institutions”.

To achieve this goal, the president directed the Ministry of Education and the ministry responsible for Science and Technology to draw up programmes that strengthen and upscale the study of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) right from the basic level. Achieving the target however remains a dream, given the fact that most tertiary institutions in the country are more oriented toward humanities education due to its relatively lower cost of running.

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