Inspirational women within renewable energy in Ghana


Gloria Boafo- Mensah

Gloria Boafo- Mensah is a PhD student at PhD-program within renewable energies at KNUST, supported by EnPe. I had the great pleasure of sitting down with Gloria in Accra this week to talk about her academic and professional career.

“I am employed at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research which is a governmental body here in Accra. Actually, having a PhD has recently become a requirement at my place of work and therefore I was very motivated to do a PhD. I work with mainly men and they were all pushing me to do a PhD”.

Gloria’s PhD evolves around finding an energy efficient construction of a biomass cookstove. A typical traditional cook stove has a 15% efficiency, while Gloria’s goal is to find an insulative lining for the cook stove that will improve the efficiency to at least 20%.

“I will soon be spending some months at NTNU Ålesund to conduct some testing and research in the laboratories there. My supervisor there is prof. Razak Seidu who is currently the research leader of the Water and Environmental Engineering Group at NTNU in Ålesund”.

Many PhD students have to juggle family and work in addition to doing their PhD. Gloria is no exception with a husband who travels a lot through his job in the military and two kids aged 9 and 7. Despite of the time constraints, Gloria expects to finish her PhD in 2020. As for the future she says:

“I hope to continue my employment at the Council as well as mentor students from KUNST and be a part-time lecturer”

Maame Tabuah Ankoh

As with Gloria, Maame Tabuah Ankoh is also a PhD student within Renewable Energies at KUNST and supported by EnPe. Her PhD is about testing solar photovoltaic modules under the climate and installation conditions in Ghana. She is employed by ICF which is a global consulting and technology services company within a number of areas amongst others energy technologies. She is not only employed, she is actually the manager of the Energy and Economics section in the ICF Ghana office.

“I work mostly with men and they respect me as a fellow professional. They are also very encouraging in my pursuit of a PhD, already calling me Professor when they see me”.  When asked about her motivation for taking a PhD she eagerly responds: “I want to be able to impart knowledge on the young! I want to work on research that will have an immediate impact on the energy sector”.

Maame is also a mother of two with a husband who works as an engineer with a state company. In the future Maame wants to be a part-time lecturer at KNUST and “lead a large public institution to increase infrastructure and energy access in Africa”.

There is no doubt that Maame Tabuah Ankoh and Gloria Boafo-Mensah are the future for Ghana’s development within renewable energies. And Ghana is lucky to have them on its team.

Text: Elisabeth Strand Vigtel. Photos supplied by interview objects

Girls and science education in Tanzanian secondary schools

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Full report by ANTHEI:
Factors influencing participation in science education by girls in Tanzanian secondary schools

The problem

Statistics show that the number of female students in ordinary level secondary schools is almost equal to that of males (BEST-2016). However, the performance of girls at the national O-level examinations (Certificate of Secondary Education Examinations) is generally lower than that of boys. Therefore the number of girls joining advanced level secondary education is less than that of boys and much fewer join science subjects. Again the performance of girls at the national A-level examinations (Certificate of Secondary Education Examinations) is generally lower than that of boys and hence a narrow capture area for girls in science and engineering studies at higher education institutions.

Study area

The study covered 63 schools in 19 regions of both Tanzania mainland and Zanzibar.

Objectives

• To identify possible inequalities in the education sector that affect particularly girls intending to pursue science subjects.
• To create awareness on the bottlenecks that limits the chances of the girls in science
• To identify possible social factors that hinder the development of girls in secondary and higher education in general and in science subjects in particular
• To seek views on possible solutions/measures that could help redress the situation

Methodology

Survey tools were prepared for both teachers and students. The tools were validated on a pilot test conducted in Dar es Salaam. The target schools were identified and 30 student teachers were engaged to collect data from the schools. Each student teacher collected data from two different schools. The data were processed and analysis was done using Statistical package for Social Sciences (SPSS).

Results

The performance of girls at O-level in science subjects such as chemistry, biology and physics is actually better than in some of the arts subjects such as history and civics. However, the performance in mathematics is probably the worst of all.

The study shows that there are a lot of factors that create difficult environment for girls to pursue their studies effectively. Some of the factors are related to the school environment while some are home based.
The school based factors that impact negatively include: lack of library facilities, lack of ICT facilities, inadequate number of teachers, lack of hostels, and lack of water and electricity.

The home based factors include: numerous household chores, long distance between school and home coupled with poor transport, limited moral and material support from families.  

Teachers have shown that funding for education needs is a serious matter affecting teaching and learning.  

The decision to choose science subjects is influenced by a number of factors other than academic performance. Social factors seem to have the upper hand in the decision. Many girls are influenced by the general stereotyping, parents, relatives, and even teachers. Economic prospects also seem to influence the decision. The prospects are sometime out of perceptions of the community in general.

The home based factors include: numerous household chores, long distance between school and home coupled with poor transport, limited moral and material support from families.  

Teachers have shown that funding for education needs is a serious matter affecting teaching and learning.  

The decision to choose science subjects is influenced by a number of factors other than academic performance. Social factors seem to have the upper hand in the decision. Many girls are influenced by the general stereotyping, parents, relatives, and even teachers. Economic prospects also seem to influence the decision. The prospects are sometime out of perceptions of the community in general. The decision to choose science subjects is influenced by a number of factors other than academic performance. Social factors seem to have the upper hand in the decision. Many girls are influenced by the general stereotyping, parents, relatives, and even teachers. Economic prospects also seem to influence the decision. The prospects are sometime out of perceptions of the community in general.

Conclusion

Social economic factors are probably more significant in affecting the choice by girls to study science subjects and take a carrier in science, engineering and technology. There are cultural pressures for girls to continue with the status quo and play the role the society has known them to play for ages. The general learning environment also contributes to the eventual career path that the girls find themselves in.

Recommendation

A lot needs to be done to change the traditions, attitudes, perceptions and expectations. The learning environment must be improved to be favourable to the girls to pursue science subjects. And carrier advice needs to be done very early in the secondary school.

Day 1: EnPe seminar in Trondheim

Around 60 participants are in Trondheim to share their research findings and academic results for the EnPe seminar, 26 to 28 February 2019.

On day 1, five of the EnPe projects gave an introduction and presented their selected research. In addition, the EnPe secretariat and the Assistant Director of the Knowledge Bank, Norad, held introductions. A special lecture on ethics and concerns regarding renewable and non-renewable energies was given by Norwegian philosopher, author and lecturer Henrik Syse.

Introductions

Ethics and other concerns regarding renewable energies and non-renewable energies, by Henrik Syse

Henrik Syse on values, ethics and responsibilities

ANTHEI

Capacity building to enhance teaching/learning, research and expert services in petroleum science and engineering in Tanzania, with UDSM and NTNU.

OGaT

Oil and gas technologies, with UDSM Tanzania and NTNU.

Implementation of Master´s in Reservoir Engineering

Exploration, evaluation and environment, with UMSA and UiS.

JuMakBE

Petroleum geoscience collaboration, with Juba and UiB.

PETROL-UEM

Capacity building within petroleum engineering and research, with UEM and NTNU.

All photos by EnPe / Bjørn Magnus Vian