Friday, February 15, 2013

Creating the Next-Generation of Purposeful Biochemist and Molecular Biologist in Ghana

I believe what our students need is not more and more
facts of Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology (BCMB)
 brought forward to the first year of the university.

When people do not know the purpose of a thing or event
abuse is inevitable. I have felt frustrated by many students in BCMB
who care about everything apart from BCMB.

Majority of BCMB students since the time I was a student,
are dazed by medicine but we all know the world needs BCMB
to create the next phase of medicine. The next phase of
medicine is being created by heros of BCMB. The age
of personalized and pre-emptive medicine is being created
by heros of BCMB.

But we have generations of BCMB students unknowingly
"ditching" this great opportunity. And what this introductory
course  should rather  do is to line up everyone in BCMB
and beyond to tell them about this great opportunity that
lay hidden in BCMB.

Each Lecturer must have a 30 mins pitch to these students.
And lets see if their purposefulness will not create greater performance
in this department. We must coach our students to develop
learning competences. Rote learning must give way to inquiry-based
learning. Students must aim to understand-analyse-innovate
instead of chew-pour-pass-forget. This will make it possible to for 
them to see the great opportunities that lay hidden in BCMB.

Instead of providing more facts, lets tell them how each of us
came to love BCMB and the goals we have in this field of study called BCMB.

I am tired of teaching Biochemistry to people who care more
about working in the Bank or something of a sort. Marking
exams papers has become the most depressing days of my
life and I cannot continue like this.

I was a member of a class of 20 from 1999-2001. I know
the attitude of the students then and it is the same now.
Only 6 of the 20 are still in science, 5 of the 6 have PhD.
This turnout is too low and this type of stats continues today.
The reason our labs are mostly empty and only a few low
profile spin-offs are coming from us.

So I want our students to understand that, for BCMB to
become the enterprise generating endeavor. we need more 
than 95 % of students to remain in BCMB all the way to PhD
and not 30 % we have now. This business of diminishing returns must
give way. We can confront the confusion of the students
early in the day.

I had some arguments with the class 2012 when they were at third
year, those who are TAs now. Some of them said they did not
want to be "trapped in a lab". Why should so many of 
such people end up in BCMB, they disrupt our poorly resourced
practicals and projects and then go on to receive their
certificates to move on to everything but BCMB.

This looks like a vicious cycle and it must stop.

Patrick Kobina Arthur (PhD) || ||

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