The NSMQ is the longest-running independent production on television in Ghana. The programme is very popular with not only its main target group – Senior High School students – but also with parents and, especially, with former students (old boys and girls), who take great pride in the performance of their schools on this programme.
The objective of the National Science & Maths Quiz has been to promote the study of the sciences and mathematics, help students develop quick thinking and a probing and scientific mind about the things around them while fostering healthy academic rivalry among senior high schools. Without a doubt, these aims have been achieved.
The quiz, popularly referred to as “brilla” by many who have gone through the secondary school system is by far one of the few academic events that bring all of Ghana’s secondary schools together. The schools and students look forward to it.
How it all begun
The idea for the production of a quiz programme aimed at encouraging the study of the sciences and mathematics was not mooted at a national science fair or conference. It all happened on the tennis court of the University of Ghana, Legon.
Mr Kwaku Mensa-Bonsu, then Managing Director of Primetime, was at the court to play the game after his own heart with his playmates, the late Professors Marian Ewurama Addy and Ebenezer Kweku Awotwe.
Mr Mensa-Bonsu was curious as to why birds could stand on a live electric wire without getting electrocuted, but human beings could not do same.
From Prof. Awotwe’s explanation, Mr Mensa-Bonsu got the idea of putting together a quiz programme on science and maths. That is where it all began in 1993. Since then, the National Science & Maths Quiz (NSMQ) has seen 20 exciting editions.
When the quiz started, it involved only 32 schools across the country, and these were divided into the Northern Sector and Southern Sector, with 16 schools per sector. Winners in both sectors were then brought to Accra for the national championship.
This format was changed after some six years. Since then, schools drawn from all parts of Ghana meet in Accra to compete for the sought-after title.
From 2000, the number of schools was increased to 40 and in 2013, the number of participating schools went up to 81, although 66 turned up for the competition.
Thus, the participation format was changed to three schools competing per contest, instead of two, as had been the case since the programme’s inception.
To give the programme a truly national character, the quiz has since 2014 involved 135 schools from all parts of Ghana.
Prof Marian Ewurama Addy
The first quiz mistress was the late Prof. Marian Ewurama Addy, professor of Biochemistry at the University of Ghana, Legon. She was quiz mistress from 1993-2000.
“When in 1993/94, during the planning of a televised quiz programme on Science, I was asked to be the Quiz Mistress, I could not say No”, she wrote in her memoirs, Rewards: An Autobiography.
“I was interested in females becoming scientists and this was an opportunity to invite the young ones to become scientists…I thought that this was a most effective way of being a role model,” she added.
No doubt she steered the quiz in such a fine manner. As a recognition of her contribution to promoting the study of Science and Mathematics amongst girls through the NSMQ, Prof. Marian Addy was named the Marketing Woman of the year by the Chartered Institute of Marketing in 1995.
Dr Eureka Emefa Adomako
Dr Eureka Emefa Adomako, a botanist at the University of Ghana, Legon, took over as quiz mistress from 2001 to 2005, having been recommended by Prof. Addy. Dr Adomako was a fantastic quiz mistress who took charge of the programme until she had to leave for postgraduate studies.
Before leaving, just as Prof. Addy recommended her as quiz mistress, Dr Adomako recommended that Dr Kaufmann take over as quiz mistress.
Dr Elsie Effah Kaufmann
In 2006, Dr Elsie Effah Kaufmann, the Head of the Biomedical Engineering department, University of Ghana, Legon, took over as quiz mistress and keeps excelling in her role to date.
Over the past ten years, she has succeeded in bringing her own style to the programme, occasionally injecting some humour into an otherwise formal programme.
As the chairperson of the moderation team, Dr Kaufmann is supported by a team of consultants made up of Prof. W.A. Asomaning, Dr Ebenezer Owusu, Dr Amos Kuditcher and Dr Douglas Adu-Gyamfi, all of the University of Ghana, Legon.
A key element of the National Science & Maths Quiz is claiming the bragging rights as national champions of Science and Maths. Contestants look forward to winning so they can beat their chests and recount how they beat so and so school to win the trophy.
Current and old students of Presbyterian Boys’ Secondary School (Presec) will seize every opportunity to let you know they are the Lionel Messi of the National Science & Maths Quiz.
Having won the quiz five times (1995, 2003, 2006, 2008, 2009), they indeed deserve to flaunt it. It definitely is no mean achievement!
However, it was Prempeh College that first won the title in 1994 and subsequently went on to win the third edition in 1996. Their city rivals, Opoku Ware School followed their heels and won the 1997 edition and later, the 2002 edition.
It is worth saying that in the history of the National Science & Maths Quiz, Achimota School has been the only mixed school to have won the title. They have won the competition on two occasions- in 1998 and 2004. All other winners have been boys’ schools. No girls’ school has won the competition, despite being in the finals quite a number of times.
In 1999, Mfantsipim School, touted as “the School” won its first title. Of the three contestants, perhaps the name that stands out is that of Bubune Adih.
He was the toast of the 1999 edition and captured the heart of the then quiz mistress, Professor Marian Ewurama Addy.
The editions of 2000 and 2001 saw the trophy move to the Eastern region, as St. Peter’s Secondary School and Pope John Secondary School won the competition respectively. St. Peter’s would later win the 2005 edition of the quiz.
In the Ghana @ 50 edition of the quiz in 2007, St. Augustine’s College were crowned proud winners. Ghana Secondary Technical School won the 2012 edition while St. Thomas Aquinas picked up the 2013 edition, beating stiff competition from Presbyterian Boys’ and a rather laid-back Mfantsiman Girls’ team, in what was a keenly contested final.
After a nearly 15-year trophy drought, Mfantsipim School won the 19th edition in 2014, with Prempeh College winning the 20th edition in 2015.
Champions over the Years
|Prempeh College, Kumasi||1994|
|Presbyterian Boys’ Secondary School, Legon||1995|
|Prempeh College, Kumasi||1996|
|Opoku Ware School, Kumasi||1997|
|Achimota School, Accra||1998|
|Mfantsipim School, Cape Coast||1999|
|St. Peter’s Secondary School, Nkwatia||2000|
|Pope John Secondary School, Koforidua||2001|
|Opoku Ware School, Kumasi||2002|
|Presbyterian Boys’ Secondary School, Legon||2003|
|Achimota School, Accra||2004|
|St. Peter’s Secondary School, Nkwatia||2005|
|Presbyterian Boys’ Secondary School, Legon||2006|
|St. Augustine’s College, Cape Coast||2007|
|Presbyterian Boys’ Secondary School, Legon||2008|
|Presbyterian Boys’ Secondary School, Legon||2009|
|Ghana Secondary Technical School, Takoradi||2012|
|St. Thomas Aquinas Secondary School, Accra||2013|
|Mfantsipim School, Cape Coast||2014|
|Prempeh College, Kumasi||2015|
|St. Peter’s Senior High School, Nkwatia||2018|
|St. Augustine’s College, Cape Coast||2019|
|Presbyterian Boys’ Secondary School, Legon||2020|
The following are some interesting facts about the NSMQ and the most successful Senio High Schools in NSMQ history.
Presbyterian Boys’ Senior High School (PRESEC, Legon) has won Six trophies.
Presec, Legon has appeared in ten finals, winning six of them, and becoming first runner-up four times. On Thursday, October 8, 2020, the PRESEC boys won a record-expanding sixth NSMQ trophy. The NSMQ was also won by PRESEC in 1995, 2003, 2006, 2008, and 2009. Their finals winning percentage is 60%.
Prempeh College has won four trophies
Prempeh College has made it to the finals six times, winning five times and finishing second once. Prempeh won the NSMQ’s inaugural competition in 1994 and went on to win it four more times. In 1996, 2015, 2017, and 2021 they won. In the finals, they have an 83.3% winning rate.
St. Peter’s Senior High School (PERSCO) has won three trophies
St. Peters has competed in eight finals, winning three times, becoming first runner-up four times, and placing second once. The NSMQ champions in 2018 were St. Peter’s, who had previously won in 2000 and 2005.
Opoku Ware SHS, Mfantsipim School, Achimota School, St Augustine’s College have each won the trophy twice
Opoku Ware won the NSMQ in the year 1997 and 2002 while Mfantsipim claimed it in 1999 and 2014.
Achimota was successful in the NSMQ final in 1998 and 2004.
St Augustine’s College won it in 2007 and 2019.
POJOSS, GTST, Adisadel, and Aquinas have each won the trophy once
Five schools have won the NSMQ once. The schools are; Pope John SHS, Koforidua, Ghana Secondary Technical School, Takoradi, Adisadel College and St Thomas Aquinas SHS.
- No girls’ school has won the trophy
- Aquinas is the only exclusively day school to have won the trophy.
- Opoku Ware School has been to the finals eight times, winning only two. This makes them the Juventus( in UCL) of NSMQ.
- Adisadel College has only once won the trophy despite appearing in six finals. In fact, they have been to the finals 4 times in a row until 2021
Has any girls school ever won the NSMQ?
Achimota School is the only coeducational school to have won the competition. No all-girls school has ever won the competition. Only 11 schools in Ghana have won the competition since its inception.