BY MICHAEL TUMWESIGYE
Over the last two decades, the value of science, which in most cases is referred to as Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects have globally gathered stride persistently. This is due to un- opposed understanding that more learners studying sciences will easily get highly paying jobs and be better placed in the society. This notion has reduced the appeal of non-science academic fields: learners and their parents believe that one is likely to land on a higher paying job after graduating with a science course. In fact, our passion for them
has created a misrepresentation of the labour market. However, though sciences undoubtedly bear great value, they’re only part of the balance. Based on current research, it’s clear that the future labour market
will be data-centric, technology-based and digital, but the science skilled
professionals of the workforce need non-science skilled graduates to thrive. We have witnessed increased pressure from many corners, including government heads in the past decade to train more scientists at the expense
of humanities, social sciences and arts. At Advanced level for example, many students would rather have science combinations, even when sometimes the foundation they got in lower classes is not enough. Moreover, learners are put on tension and literally forced to offer
sciences even when they are interested in arts courses. In Uganda, it started with the termination of arts scholarships in public universities in 2005; segregation of money for research (for example most of the money given to public universities for research goes to sciences); reduction of non-science courses in some public universities and the recent executive order by the Ugandan president to increase the salaries of academic scientists. The segregation of teachers further depicts that some disciplines are more important than others. Promoting science education to the exclusion of the arts, humanities and social sciences may seem like a good idea, but it is eeply misguided. For instance, Steve Jobs, who reigned for decades as a
technology hero, was neither a specialist in computing nor a hardware engineer. The same is with Mark Zuckerberg, the Facebook co-founder who was a fervent student of Greek and Latin when he was only in high school.
As a country, we need to reverse the declining value given to non-science
subjects and level the playing field for both academic fields. We should learn from other countries, for example in a good scientist, an engineer needs additional skills and knowledge in law, economics and communication among others. Therefore, the best approach for
a healthy balance in education, can be a multi-disciplinary or integrated
approach. Such integration can help increase knowledge sharing and
transfer between STEM and non- STEM subjects and produce high-
quality graduates. In fact, universities should focus to a greater extent on
how to close the gap between sciences and non -science fields in terms of
quality rather than numbers. Universities need to develop and embrace multidisciplinary programmes that bring a mixture of sciences and non-science courses. We need higher education policy changes so that learning and knowledge production can be adapted to ensure multidisciplinary approaches. Universities should further stop portraying that some courses are more superior than others, as it may lead to some students foregoing
higher education. It’s also pertinent that public universities review their
admission requirements. At Ordinary and Advanced levels, emphasis
should not be on increasing salariesor science teachers; which is
discriminative and doubtable whether high teacher’s pay can increase enrollment of students into science subjects. Rather, to address the imbalance between science and non-science fields, government should train more science teachers and provide continuous professional
development to them; build and equip science labs; fund research in
pedagogy and harmonise salaries for all public employees without
discrimination and based on performance metrics. Increasing scientists at the expense of non-scientists without necessarily looking holistically at our current development problems, is like treating the symptoms of a disease without considering the root causes. As a country, we need to focus and invest a lot in closing the gap in terms of quality, knowledge and skills. In fact, it’s a paradox that while there is need for scientists, many remain unemployed. The problem is therefore beyond poor pay for scientists. Key issues must be addressed first.
Oct 06, 2021 0Bishop Emeritus Rt Rev Egidio Nkaijanabwo, was the first...
Oct 06, 2021 0BY FR. ANTHONY K. KIBIRA MCCJ Pope Francis, through the convocation of the Synod on Synodality (2021-23), is inviting the entire Church to reflect on a theme that is decisive for its life and mission. As Chruch, we have...
Jul 16, 2021 0By Fr Arasu Lazar SDB The International Day of Non-Violence is celebrated on 2nd October. This day is chosen in honour of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, popularly called, Mahatma Gandhi, who was born on this day in 1869....
Jun 11, 2021 0Pope Francis said that the two-year process leading to the 2023 synod onsynodality is not about “gathering opinions,” but “listening to the Holy Spirit.” Addressing Catholics from the Diocese of Rome on Sept....