By Doreen Bazio.

The 2022 Uganda Certificate Examinations results showed a slight improvement in the performance of sciences but it was noted that overall, students are still struggling to pass the four compulsory science subjects.

While releasing the results, Dan Odongo, the Executive Secretary of UNEB, noted that ‘”a lot of candidates showed a lack of practical experience in handling the apparatus as many schools tend to handle practical aspects of the curriculum much later in the course. As a result, students do not develop the necessary skills”.

This is true for Alere Secondary School. Before the construction of a modernized science laboratory under Development Response to Displacement Impact Project (DRDIP) in 2019, they would conduct practicals in the school compound because the available laboratory could only accommodate 10 students opposed to the new laboratory that can accommodate 20 students in one session due to few equipment but with a seating capacity of 100. The school has an enrollment of 332, with 75 of the refugees.

According to Oboki Kelvin, a Physics Teacher at the school, and the in charge of the laboratory, because of DRDIP’s intervention, the school was ranked the 4th in the performance of science schools out of the 22 secondary schools in Adjumani District. The modernized laboratory has also increased the enrollment of science students at A’ level from 5 to 30. The former biology lab now acts as a store while the previous physics lab was changed to be the S.6 science class.


Cathy Sharon, 17, S.3, a national, says that construction of the modernized came timely with the transition of Ugandan schools to a new curriculum which is intended to equip students with essential practical skills. Sharon also reveals that many students now have more confidence in sciences.

“If you are to see the curriculum for S.3, you will appreciate that there are more practicals. The lab gives us an opportunity to practice and get used to the practicals before we reach S.4. We can now even do the practicals on our own as long as we know the procedure. When I was in S.1 they would bring for us the apparatus in class to see because the lab would always be congested” Sharon observes.

Indeed, Oweka Richard, a Chemistry teacher at the school, says the modernized laboratory, has reduced the number of students dodging science classes at O’ level because it is spacious and more convenient.

“Those days we were suffering because while we had the required chemicals, the laboratory was inadequate. We would conduct the lessons and practicals from outside.” Richard reveals as he shares his experience.

Deng Mabior, 20, S.3, a refugee, says frequent practicals helps them to gain science knowledge that they do not only apply in the science practical exams but everyday life.

“There is a time we entered here for biology practical and we did one on food testing of carbohydrates because the chemicals were available as well as the litmus paper test.” Mabior notes.

However, the school still faces some challenges. The laboratory lacks power, so practicals can’t be done at night, there is no water connected yet, and unfavorable to use between 1pm and 3pm because of heat.

Observers have argued that the move by the Ugandan government recently to enhance the salary of science teachers will barely have any impact until there is affirmative action by government to construct and equip modern science laboratories to improve and create a more conducive environment for science learning.