Government backs school mini labs to promote science learning

Pupils of Rweibaare Primary School, Mitooma District use a science kit during a lesson. PHOTO | RAJAB MUKOMBOZI

What you need to know:

  • Government backs primary school mini- laboratories to promote science learning culture at an early age. 

Pursuing sciences is looked at as one of the ways to contribute greatly to the future of  Uganda. 

According to  a study  by Uganda National Council for Science and Technology (UNCST), titled  The Quality of Science Education in Uganda  published in 2012, enhancing science education is considered to be a strategic investment for a country that is aiming to create a critical mass of scientists and engineers to spur growth and development. 

Also, the quality of science education is determined by institutional mechanisms, the quality and number of science teachers; the status of the science research and teaching infrastructure; and the relevance of the curriculum to the needs of the country.

The level of enrolment and performance of science students at different levels are also a reflection of the quality of science education.

In 2022, the Minister of Education and Sports hailed the initiative by River Flow International Science Teachers Initiative (RIFI-STI)  in manufacturing of the mini- laboratories at State House Nakasero.

The minister said the mini laboratories would complement the textbooks in the teaching and learning of integrated science in primary schools. With these science kits, pupils can learn and pick interest in sciences practically at an early age.

RIFI-STI is a registered non-government organisation (NGO) made up of experienced science teachers working together to improve the quality of education in Africa and promote the use of scientific knowledge, innovation, and research in solving socio-economic challenges.

Thus, the government in partnership with Science Teachers’ Initiative (STI)  launched this programme in October 2023 and its impact is now being assessed in 334 pilot schools across the country. 

The timely intervention

During the assessment of the project in Rubirizi and Mitooma districts in the south western region in December last year Ms Barbra Nyamwiza, the programmes officer at STI said the mini- laboratories are designed to provide primary school pupils with innovative-practical learning experiences in science.

“The primary school mini-laboratories are to help to develop the culture of learning and interest pupils in sciences at an early age, to promote innovation and skills development, and cultivate the culture of learning essential life skills. There is a general perception that science is a difficult subject, but with this intervention pupils will like it because they will have the feel, touch, and enjoy it through practicals,” Ms Nyamwiza noted.    

She said features of the mini laboratories/integrated science kit is a curriculum and includes all components necessary for learning science practically from Primary Four to Primary Seven will supplement the practical science textbooks and help students develop scientific skills, critical thinking, problem-solving and analytical skills. 

The officer said the mini-laboratory includes visual aids designed images and models covering topics such as human body models, first aid, measurement, simple machines, optics and microscopes. The district education officer, Mitooma Ms Peace Gloria Barungi, noted that the programme will help to inspire learners to love and enjoy sciences. 

“The science kit was evaluated and recommended by the National Curriculum Development Centre (NCDC) and the Ministry of Education and Sports as a best tool to inculcate the spirit of loving and embracing science subjects in learners. The mini-labs make the teaching of science more learner-centred and they will love and enjoy it,” Ms Barungi explained.

Her counterpart, the district education officer Rubirizi Mr Biiru Warufu, said they are optimistic that with these mini –laboratories, the negative perception of sciences being viewed as a hard subject will be minimised.

“With this kind of teaching, the pupils enjoy the subject because of the real feel of it through practicals, they are engaged during teaching and they find it exciting. I think this becomes a practical way of making learners love sciences at an early age, the spirit they will carry on in subsequent levels of education,” noted Mr Biiru.

Breaking monotony

Mr Mathias Kiiza, the head teacher Rweibaare Primary School in Mitooma District, said the mini-laboratories will help to improve the teaching of sciences, thus making it easy and interesting to learners. He added that as pupils they handle the kits, they will find it interesting unlike using illustrations and charts. 

“Science has been generally looked at as hard subject, best performed subjects have been Social Studies and English, but with this intervention we hope to see better results in sciences,” Mr Kiiza explained  


The stakeholders however expressed concern on the numbers of benefiting schools and the need to retool primary school teachers.

“We have to admit that the institutions these teachers graduated from had no laboratories, the training of science is basically theory. We have a challenge that they at times face difficulties in using some of the kits because they need practical parts of it. We have been using secondary school science teachers around to skill out teachers in using these kits but they are not reliable because they are also committed their jobs,” Ms Barungi noted.

She also added that in Mitooma District, there are 105 government-aided primary schools and 95 private schools. However, only 20 are benefiting under this programme.

Ms Rose Tumuhairwe, the headteacher of Kicwamba Primary School in Rubirizi District, said some gadgets need science skills and are difficult to interpret, which leaves a big gap in imparting required knowledge to learners.

But Ms Nyamwiza noted that they are engaging the government to see the programme cut across all schools in the country and have teachers retooled.

New approach

The New Approach Primary Science kit is a mini/mobile laboratory comprised of teaching-learning apparatus that the teacher would find hard to improvise.

The kit is curriculum-based and it includes modules necessary for learning science practically like the microscope, pulleys, magnetic system, electric kit, among others.

The kit  includes models of the human body organs and a system such as the heart, skeleton, eye, reproductive and respiratory systems. These models give the learner a clear picture of what the actual organ or system looks like as well as an opportunity to promote creativity.