Rwanda: Expired Lab Chemicals in Schools – MPs Urge ‘Safe’ Disposal

The Lower House has requested the Ministry of Education to address the issue of expired laboratory chemicals and products available in some schools in the country, within three months, to avert possible harmful effects on school communities.

It made the resolution on July 19, as it adopted the report of its Committee on Education, Technology, Culture, and Youth. The report covered issues identified in general education during lawmakers’ visits to schools in different districts of the country, from November to December 2022.

Expired laboratory chemicals and products are one of the issues that lawmakers observed in science teaching schools that have laboratories. They indicated that though they help students in acquiring hands-on knowledge in sciences, they pose health risks if not properly handled – especially expired ones.

The Chairperson of the Committee on Education, Technology, Culture, and Youth, Veneranda Uwamariya, said, “The programme to solve the issue of expired chemicals and products should be expedited based on the findings of a study being conducted in order to prevent consequences they might cause.”

Initially, the committee had proposed that the implicated substances be disposed of within six months. However, some MPs argued that the period was long, given the hazards they pose to school communities who are exposed to them. They, therefore, recommended a shorter period, which is half of the initial one.

MP Uwamariya said the initial period for the resolution implementation was based on an ongoing study being carried out by the Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA), and, “destroying these products requires a budget.”