Popularise sciences with well-equipped labs

On Thursday, the Uganda National Examinations Board (Uneb) released the 2018 Uganda Advanced Certificate of Education examinations with a remarkable decline in performance in Biology and Agriculture.

During the release of the results, Uneb noted that entries for science subjects are quite low, with only 10 per cent of the total candidature registering for science subjects, meaning out of 98,524 candidates who sat for the examinations, only 9,852 offered science subjects.

This is a worrying trend given government emphasis on science teaching. Establishing why, after many years of popularising sciences, a paltry 9,852 are opting for sciences yet the world dynamics today call technological savvy persons, is pertinent now. There has been a general trend of a lot of lip service and poor service delivery.

The Government White Paper on Education of 1992 highlighted the potential role of science and technology in enhancing development. It was argued that since getting independence from Britain in 1962, Uganda has largely promoted humanities, producing large numbers of white-collar workers such as lawyers, among others.

This trend explains shortage of doctors, engineers and agricultural researchers, among others. This was the rationale behind the government policy on science education which aimed to bridge the gap by training more scientists.

The policy, which took effect in 2006, made the study of science subjects, namely: Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Mathematics compulsory for Ordinary-Level secondary school students. The rationale behind this policy was to build capacity in the field of science in Uganda.

Consequently, science subjects were made compulsory in schools. But why has science teaching not had an impact in the country today?
Popularising sciences involves practical interventions such as retooling the teachers, building laboratories, equipping them adequately and working on the mind sets of the learners. Attitude is affecting the teaching and learning of science subjects in the country.

Biology is core for those who want to become doctors and researchers in the medical field. Agriculture is the backbone of Uganda’s economy yet it’s not a popular subject in many schools. Government has a deliberate policy on sciences but has not had a deliberate proper supervision of its teaching. Many rural schools suffer power outages, lack laboratory equipment and competent science teachers.

As Education State minister Chrysostom Muyingo stated, teachers should improve their methods of teaching and stop relying on the use of pamphlets that has discouraged students from analytical thinking and doing science practicals. Science teaching and learning is in the practice and not in theory.