Professor collects books for Nigerian university

When Dr. Kalu Ogbureke returns to his native Nigeria next month as a Fulbright Scholar, the University of Lagos won’t just be getting his years of teaching and research expertise. He’ll be bringing with him 250 pounds of textbooks.

“Institutions in these so-called third world countries do not have the resources we do here and some of the things we take for granted. They do not keep up with the editions – the new facts as they come out. That is a luxury they can’t afford. But even worse, they can’t even get older textbooks for the costs,” said Ogbureke, who is an assistant professor in the Department of Oral Biology and Oral & Maxillofacial Pathology.

Knowing this, he sent out a call for used books across campus. And the campus responded.

“I have received quite generously from the dept of pathology, here in the medical school. A couple of colleagues pulled out very invaluable collections from their personal libraries. And some of them are from my own collections over the years,” Ogbureke said.

The State Department will ship 200 pounds of the materials he has collected. He will fund another 50 on his own before he leaves on Oct. 13. But it will not be enough.

The U.S. Department of State reports that most Nigerian physicians and nurses do not meet U.S. standards of training, and recent graduates lack experience with modern equipment and sophisticated procedures.

For example, Ogburke said that the University of Lagos does not have the luxury of multi-headed microscopes, or certain dyes that allow clinicians and researchers to complete some kinds of lab work. Still, they make do.

“They manage to do well, they manage to train sufficiently enough to handle their local challenges. But the fact remains that this is far from ideal – far from what it should be at the minimum,” he said. “If I can get multi-headed microscopes across, it will be invaluable – and given the motivation and drive of these people it will really result in a dramatic change in the way they teach and the effectiveness in teaching pathology.”

The university serves 39,000 students in the former capital city of Nigeria. These books will benefit the School of Dental Sciences in the College of Medicine, which has 1,628 students.

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