In 10 Years time, the world population has been projected by the UN to be 8.3 billion from the current 7.8 Billion (October 2020) and 3.5 temperature increase. By 2050 Europe’s population will decrease by 10% while the fastest-growing continent’s population, Africa, will double. By 2100, global temperatures will have risen by 1.5°C due to human activities. This will not only cause drought but floods, conflict and loss of species.
To deal with this changes, there is need for improvement of higher education and research. As seen in most universities in Africa, technical students graduate with heaps of theory without practical skills. A statistics or biology graduate from most African universities cannot handle data using any software package or even seen a PCR machine leave alone use it.
I got emotional with this one and lost direction but came back later on
As a biochemistry graduate – molecular biology: PCR is the most basic skill- were it not for my internship in one of the best molecular biology laboratories before graduation (which I paid to be trained), PCR would still be that forbidden golden machine a student touching would make it break, crack, rot or whatever fear of God that was instilled in us. I am talking about a country that represents an average of Africa’s economy, Kenya my love. in 2012, Masters students from Ethiopia used their first computer and see their first PCR machine once they move to developed countries for their PhD education.
Despite having more than half the units on molecular biology, no one did a molecular biology project. The three students who did a bioinformatics course to run away from the costs incurred in funding your microbiology based project, took data the gene bank and modelled a protein. The level of microbiology-based projects was mainly on testing possible drug activity of something against fungi or bacteria. Bacteria used for study was borrowed from each other, no one ascertaining leave alone the strain used but if it is actually E.coli. I, for example was not allowed to work on a vibrio cholerae simply because, we are all using one incubator that has projects stack onto other projects.
As a perfectionist, I was not taking my chances on what, I improvised. The only way I could be close to sure, I was using the right bacteria was using media. Everyone was provided with expired nutrient agar and Muller Hinton, asking for an alternative was not an option. I tried to use my dimples into being allowed to the hidden away media specific for the three bacteria used to test activated charcoal adsorption activity, it was futile. I had to use my voice and complain to the chairperson since my supervisor was due. As much as that move made me get access to the lock and key laboratory for post-graduate students and right to borrow a centrifuge that fit my ‘utensils’, I still had to forego one of the most crucial steps, thanks to the stingy chemistry department. I had to divorce a crucial analysis from the only paper that did a similar project in Japan. My art side came into play: I devised a whole new analysis using what I had in hand just to get results.
As much as I got an A from my project, I still asked to redo the project in an institution that I interned in but still the whole inter-department beef did not allow to explore it further to troubleshoot the Error I got from that Japan analysis.
I am a Scientist and a Journalist who loves communicating science to the public.
Personal Website: Sarahnyancheranyakeri.co.ke ( http://sarahnyancheranyakeri.co.ke/)