The government has for long promoted sciences as central to development. Last week, the Minister of Science, Technology and Innovations, Dr Elioda Tumwesigye, asked teachers to embrace technology “and sciences as a way of promoting development”.
The minister outlined what technology could do for this country if teachers embraced it. He said it is the foundation upon which countries in Asia, Europe and America developed. According to Dr Tumwesigye, Uganda should develop like other countries in Europe but that cannot happen if we do not embrace technology and encourage our children to study science subjects.
During the same function – a fundraising for a science and computer laboratory for a secondary school in western Uganda – another official said government is currently promoting science, technology and mathematics countrywide in primary and secondary schools to interest young people into loving the disciplines.
This being one of the National Development Plan interventions aimed at “improving human capital for science, technology and innovation”, government should make critical decisions on how the policy on sciences should be implemented. For this programme to be successful, there must be a deliberate effort to ensure schools have firm foundation in science subjects from formative years.
Beyond encouraging children to study science subjects as the minister advised, government must put in place essentials in schools to make teaching and learning of science subjects possible. Currently, that is not the case as demonstrated by the continuous poor performance in science subjects in national examinations, which has been blamed on shortage of competent science teachers and scarcity of equipped science laboratories.
What is intriguing is that the reasons for the poor performance are always highlighted and solutions proposed but the country is treated to the same lamentations every other year when national exam results are released.
What then is the way forward? We have consistently been told that lack of science teachers and science labs, for instance, affect the administration of practical exams and consequently students’ performance. We have also been told that some teachers are not competent enough to teach sciences besides shortage of science teachers.
As government officials urge teachers to embrace technology and sciences, government should first find out why performance in sciences remains poor. We can’t promote sciences without giving students a proper foundation in the required subjects.
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