The nine finalists of the 2019 National Science and Maths Quiz have been speaking ahead of the grand finale scheduled for Thursday, July 11 at the National Theatre, Accra.
While their quick, intelligent and eloquent responses thrilled the millions who watch them week after week, little is known of the preparations which birthed that.
The contestants from Presec, St. Augustine’s College and St Peter’s perform so well on stage it almost seems they are keeping to a well-rehearsed script directed by Primetime, organizers of the quiz just to generate public excitement.
Questions from Kojo Yankson on the AM show on JoyNews brought the geniuses closer to viewers and listeners of Joy FM. During the interview, it was apparent, even to the disinterested observer, that these contestants were made of steel and baked in the hottest fiery furnace.
They approached questions bordering on any sphere of life with the same dexterity and brilliance with which they answer the complex science and maths questions during the Quiz. “I don’t hear the cheers when I am focused for the quiz,” was the response of a Presbyterian Boys contestant who was asked if the loud cheers from their supporters affect their performance in any way.
What preparations went into the contest?
The role of old students from the various schools kept coming up. Alumni of these great give more than just deafening cheers. In unison, all three schools admitted that they have come thus far because of the support of their old boys.
Among other things, contestants from the Presbyterian Boys Secondary School said it is the incentives and direct support of their old students which keeps urging them on. St. Augustine’s, for example, admit to having a special department dedicated to preparing students for the competition and this has been made possible by the benevolence of their old students’ association.
With such infrastructure, the school undertakes as many mock contests as possible including those with external schools. These prior preparations help them overcome the pressure and stage fright which usual is typical of highly anticipated national contests.
The role of parents and family members came up, too. For instance, famous Presec contestant, Dodoo Emmanuel Nii Amu said his sister is his psychologist, who has helped him to give his best at the contest without breaking down or burning out.
Kojo Yankson wondered how the contestants are able to answer varied questions from a broad field like science and maths. They said “we specialize.” Specific areas are assigned to contestants such that depending on the areas a question comes from, a particular candidate elects to answer.
It is for this reason that some employ the substitution method where a candidate replaces another depending on the area of science the contest is focusing on. These ensure that the pressure in the contest is evenly distributed.
On their anticipation ahead of the grand finale tomorrow, they said they were not apprehensive. “Once you qualify to the finals only God has the final say. There are no big schools,” contestant asserted. Pointing to their future aspirations, it was evenly distributed between the fields of medicine, petrochemical engineering, Computer Science and entrepreneurship.
The Journey so far
The three Schools emerged finalists of a contest which involved some 108 schools across Ghana. The schools made it to the initial stage after qualifying from their respective regions.
The balloting for the 2019 NSMQ preliminary stage contest was held Saturday, June 15 – an event that was characterised by tension. Each day, three contests were held at two venues simultaneously and the winners of the 36 contests, together with 18 highest scoring losing schools, will join the 27 seeded schools for the One-eighth stage.
The venues for the competition were the R.S Amegashie Auditorium and the New ‘N’ Block, both on the Legon campus of the University of Ghana. The first contest took place on Monday, June 17 at the R.S Amegashie Auditorium between Chemu Senior High School, St. Mary’s Sem./Senior High School, Lolobi and EPC Mawuko Girls’ Senior High School.
While the schools that made it to the quarterfinal in 2018 have a seeded spot and will begin the challenge from the one-eighth stage, a better number, including some heavyweights went through the preliminary contests.