Universities urged to prioritise laboratory upgrade

Over the years, equipment in most laboratories across the nation’s universities is obsolete and poorly equipped.

Visits to many laboratories in the universities revealed how both lecturers and students improvise during practical or avoid practical learning completely due to a lack of required apparatus.

While suggesting solutions to the deteriorating state of public universities’ laboratories, the Head of Microbiology Department at Adeleke University, Osun State, Dr Oladipo Kolawole, suggested that university administrators should prioritise laboratory equipment in budget planning, saying this would ensure that there was a consistent budget allocation for purchasing, upgrading, and maintaining laboratory equipment.

He added that addressing poorly equipped laboratories in government universities required a multifaceted approach including increasing funding, partnerships, donations, budget prioritisation, collaboration, and capacity building.

Kolawole maintained that by implementing these solutions, universities would provide better laboratory experiences for students, which could lead to improved academic performance and increased career opportunities.

He said, “Universities can collaborate with each other to share laboratory equipment and expertise. This can help to reduce costs and ensure that students have access to a wider range of equipment and resources. Capacity building programmes can be organised to train laboratory technicians and instructors on how to use and maintain laboratory equipment effectively. This can help to extend the lifespan of equipment and ensure that it is used correctly.”

“One of the primary reasons for poorly equipped laboratories is insufficient funding. Governments should allocate more resources to universities to enable them to purchase modern laboratory equipment and maintain existing equipment.

“Universities can partner with private companies to provide financial and technical support for laboratory equipment. This can help universities access the latest technology and maintain their laboratory equipment. Donations from alumni, corporate organizations, and philanthropic individuals can be used to purchase laboratory equipment for universities. Universities can also organise fundraising events to raise money for laboratory equipment.”

Also speaking, lecturer and Clinical Psychologist, Dr Oluwafisayo Adebimpe, Department of Psychiatry, College of Health Sciences, Ladoke Akintola University of Technology Ogbomoso, Oyo State, said many students would find learning complicated if there were no adequate exposure to the practical aspect.

She also said teaching and learning could be compromised for both the teacher and students if the instructional materials, lack of laboratory, and equipment were not readily available or obsolete. “Learning involves critical thinking with the intermittent appraisal of acquired knowledge and skills. Most times students might lose interest eventually making the class boring if there is no clear direction on what they have imagined through the theoretical aspect.

“The fear of not being able to compete with fellow counterparts when certain areas of interest are discussed becomes challenging to complement their knowledge, which is likely to have an effect during a search for employment. Confidence and assertions expressed by students when they have a full grasp of exposure to adequate teaching exposure make their knowledge more broadened and detailed, it even aids and improves academic performances.”

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