Solve this science puzzle in schools
Posted Monday, February 11 2013 at 02:00
Students from all parts of Uganda cannot compete favourably when some of them get to see lab equipment for the first time in a final examination room. This only sustains the already poor quality science education.
Last year’s Uganda Certificate of Education examination results released last week is yet another disturbing reminder of the appalling quality of education in many schools, particularly in rural areas. The slight overall decline registered in performance compared to 2011 is bad enough, but what is more worrying is the poor performance in science subjects.
It is troubling that students continue to perform poorly in science subjects despite government efforts to promote sciences. In the last five years, various measures have been put in place to encourage and upgrade sciences in schools. If well implemented, these measures will improve the overall performance in science subjects and impart skills in students – an element that is lacking, but vital, in our education system.
Though the Minister of Education and Sports, Jessica Alupo, rightly decried the unacceptably high failure rates in science subjects and asked schools to urgently address the problem, it takes more than ministerial statements to reverse this decline.
According to Ms Alupo, some schools performed poorly in sciences because they are not using laboratory equipment provided for teaching sciences. What is, however, more crucial is the need to address the wider issues affecting the students and teachers.
In October 2012, for instance, it was reported that the country was short of 6,500 science teachers. This is despite the policy that made science subjects compulsory for all secondary school students. Also, the ministry has in the past stated that some of the available teachers are ill-trained. How then are they expected to adequately pass on skills to their students?
Instead of blaming government schools that do not utilise the laboratories and equipment, the line ministry should find out why the labs are lying idle. It is possible that the teachers need refresher courses.
We must also be mindful of the fact that many schools in rural areas lack laboratories. Students from all parts of Uganda cannot compete favourably when some of them get to see lab equipment for the first time in a final examination room.
This only sustains the already poor quality science education. The government must fix these gaps if we are to realise the promotion of sciences in the whole country.