Govt unlocking girls potential in science

Wednesday November 13 2019

Hands-on. Young innovators of St Katherine

Hands-on. Young innovators of St Katherine Secondary School in Lira District, exhibit their eco-friendly refrigerator during the World Science Day at their school at the weekend. PHOTO BY BILL OKETCH  

By BILL OKETCH

The Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation is empowering girls through engineering to solve urgent community problems.

The ministry was established by President Museveni in 2016 to promote science, technology and innovation, and to ensure the country creates more jobs and trains more scientists.

Mr Arthur Makara, the commissioner of science, technology and innovation advancement and outreach programmes at the ministry, said: “The purpose of World Science Day that is celebrated every November 10 is to connect science to the public and have more children taught through hands-on, not theory.”

“If we teach children practically, they can solve quite a number of problems that society faces today,” Mr Makara said.

The commissioner made the remarks during the World Science Day commemoration at the weekend.

This year’s event was celebrated under the theme: “Science for the people and the people for science”.

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Mr Makara also said the ministry intends to work closely with parents to encourage youth to become scientists.

“Girls should be able to do science. This traditional feeling that girls cannot do science because science is hard is not true,” he said.

Dr Nicholas Kwarija, a principal at the ministry, said they are working closely with Yiya Engineering Solutions, a Ugandan project, in the implementation of the programme.

He said they have encouraged young people to pursue science, technology and innovation careers so as to build human capital for development.

“We have an outreach programme that will reach every school. Science, technology and innovation is the way to go,” Dr Kwarija said.

Ms Erin Fitzgerald, the co-founder and country director of Yiya Engineering Solutions, said she was impressed by the innovativeness of students selected from six secondary schools in Lira District.

Exhibition
Last Saturday, students from St Katherine, Lira Town College, Rapha Girls, Leo Atubo College, Brightlight College and Archbishop Orombi Comprehensive Secondary School, exhibited different solutions to community problems.

The students were able to make an eco-friendly refrigerator, mosquito repellant, pest control mechanisms, while some were able to use bicycles to charge mobile phones.

“The students now understand that if you master science, then you can be an agent of change in your community. You don’t have to wait for someone else to come and solve the problems,” Ms Fitzgerald said.

Today, teaching and learning from a teacher-centred 1950s-style institution dependent on note memorisation is being transformed to a project-based student-centred journey focused on learning crucial 21st-century skills.

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