Primetime Responds To PRESECS’s Statement Concerning NSMQ 2021 Grande Final

Primetime Limited, producers of the prestigious Annual National Science & Maths Quiz has responded to a press statement by 2021 finalists Presbyterian Boys’ Secondary School.

In a statement released on Wednesday, December 8, 2021, Primetime advised the 6-time champions “to learn to lose graciously and conduct themselves with honour”

Read the full statement below:

“The attention of Primetime Limited, producers of the National Science & Maths Quiz, has been drawn to a statement purported to be issued by the Alumni Association of Presbyterian Boys’ Secondary School (PRESEC), and interviews granted by old boys and contestants on various radio stations and social media channels.  

In their statement, the association indicates that PRESEC “was given a raw deal” at the Grand Finale. This claim has been taken up by old students and the Contestants. We would like to state categorically that this claim is totally false and only an attempt to detract attention from the Champions and the highly successful production of this year’s NSMQ in Kumasi.  

The fact of the matter is that during Round Three, also known as the Problem of the Day, of the final contest, which featured Presbyterian Boys’ Secondary School (PRESEC), Keta Senior High Technical School and Prempeh College, the interactive screen used by the team from Prempeh College got locked, about 20 seconds to the end of the round. While the contestants tried to unlock their screen, albeit without success, their two other competitors, PRESEC and Keta SHTS, continued their work, enjoying the full four minutes allocated for that question.  

The production team’s assessment of the situation indicated that the screen was locked through no fault of the team from Prempeh College. Thus, it was recommended that they be given 15 seconds to complete their work. It is worth noting that at the point when their screen was locked, the team from Prempeh College was ahead of the other two schools, in terms of the solution they had presented on their screen. 

A similar incident happened during the Preliminary Stage Contests in the Volta-Oti Zone on November 5, 2021. In the contest which featured Mawuli School, Dzodze-Penyi SHS, Kpedze SHS and Awudome SHS, Kpedze SHS’ whiteboard was not stable during the presentation of their solution. In view of that, the Quiz Mistress awarded 30 extra seconds to them, to make up for time lost trying to keep their whiteboard steady. 

The granting of these extra minutes, in both cases, was in fairness to teams that had suffered the mishap of a faulty set-up that had prevented them from working freely, like their competitors, and not an attempt to give them undue advantage over their competitors. In this same spirit of fairness to all teams, competitors on the NSMQ are allowed to protest against questions, or answers they deem erroneous. The adjudication of the merits of their complaint is done by the Quiz Mistress, in consultation with the subject consultant, who either sustain or overturn an earlier decision, based on the merits of the complaint and the evidence provided. 

Thus, during the final contest, PRESEC lodged two Physics complaints. The first was a rejection of their three-figure answer to a Round One question in favour of a two-figure answer provided as a bonus to Keta SHTS, i.e., 1.8 against 1.81, the correct three-figure answer being 1.82; both schools gave the correct order of magnitude). In response to the formal complaint, the Physics Consultant pointed out to the teachers from PRESEC that one needed more precise constants to obtain the correct third-figure answer in this particular calculation – a more challenging task than calculating two figures. The complaining teacher seemed to accept the marks determined by the Quiz Mistress after this explanation. 

The second complaint concerned a Round Four statement: The electric field is conservative. Since the curl of E is not zero in general (it equals the negative partial time derivative of the magnetic flux density according to one of Maxwell’s equations) one cannot say E is conservative. A static electric field, however, is conservative since in that case, curl E is zero. The teacher rejected this explanation and pointed to some sources that seemed to claim that E is conservative without qualification. 

The rejection of the explanation provided by the Physics Consultant showed the teacher’s apparent lack of information on this important topic that is frequently taught in one guise or another to SHS students. Also saddening was his persistence on his erroneous position and his allegations of bias against PRESEC.

Over the last 28 years, the NSMQ has provided educational and entertaining content, while promoting healthy academic rivalry. The competition offers an equal playing field to all schools, without discrimination, or favouritism. Indeed, Primetime has no interest in which team wins, or loses a particular contest, and the Championship for that matter. This is a standard we have maintained all through the production of the National Championship over the years on the campuses of PRESEC, Achimota School, University of Ghana, and this year at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science & Technology. 

The Quiz Mistress, Professor Elsie Effah Kaufmann, like all our other Quiz Mistresses, has displayed fairness and professionalism in handling the competition since she took over the hosting of the programme in 2006, during which period PRESEC, has won the Championship four times!  

We would like to assure all schools and the general public that Primetime remains resolute to fulfill our mandate of promoting science and mathematics education at the Senior High School level and will continue to do so with a high sense of professionalism and the highest sense of integrity.  

We would like to call on the dissatisfied old students and others who have taken to social media channels to insult and vilify Primetime, the NSMQ brand and the Quiz Mistress to put an immediate end to it. We would urge the team from PRESEC to learn to lose graciously and conduct themselves with honour, worthy of the only six-time champion of the National Science & Maths Quiz.  

On this note, we would like to congratulate again Prempeh College for winning this year’s Championship and wish PRESEC and Keta SHTS, and indeed all the other participating schools in the National Championship of the NSMQ the very best as they prepare for next year’s edition of the competition.

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