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Science cafés (or Cafés Scientifique) are stirring up dialogue between locals and scientists in Uganda — and their success has led to a grant to establish "junior cafés" in secondary schools around the country.

Africa had its first taste of Café Scientifique in July 2007, when researcher Patrice Mawa from the Entebbe Virus Research Institute set up a café after being inspired by the enthusiasm of curious locals who wanted to know what science could do for them. Further cafés have since been established in Arua, Kampala and Kasese, as well as in Kenya and South Africa.

Now Uganda is hoping to repeat their success with a younger audience. The UK-based medical charity The Wellcome Trust has awarded the country a three-year grant to set up junior Café Scientifique meetings in secondary schools.

At these meetings — organised around the school calendar — students can discuss a variety of science and technology topics with local scientists. It is hoped that this will stimulate extracurricular interest in science and broaden understanding. The idea is that the students will gradually organise the meetings themselves, thus also developing communication and leadership skills.

The junior cafés will be launched this month. Members of the public are invited to look out for a café around their community or school — or start one themselves.

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