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Empty space converted into professional laboratory

Training & Education

Which country consists of a staggering 14,572 islands, and has a population of 269 million? The answer is Indonesia. But did you know that the country is also home to almost 3,300 educational institutions? 

Ten years ago, the Yayasan Bina Mandiri educational institution was established in Gorontalo (YBMG), Sulawesi, Indonesia. YMBG consists of three schools. One of them - Sekolah Tinggi Ilmu Kesehatan (STIKES) – has been offering study programmes in healthcare, such as the programme for clinical analysis, pharmacist’s assistant and nutritionists, since 2016. CEO Dr Ir Azis Rachman called in the assistance of PUM to further develop the institute. The result was an identification mission by Sector Coordinator Frank van Wezel, who proposed a multiyear cooperation programme with PUM. As part of that programme, he called on expert Dolf Evenberg, among others, to help introduce further improvements to the healthcare study programmes.  


‘They need to learn how things are done in practice’ 


There were sufficient numbers of classrooms but what was missing was an adequate laboratory. Dolf advised them to convert an almost empty space into a modern laboratory. Together with department director Dr Titin Dunggio and her staff, they initiated these developments. As Dolf explained, “PUM has a fund for small-scale investments, the so-called Hans Blankert Fund (HBF). With assistance from the HBF, a basic range of laboratory equipment was purchased. It is important for the students in the programme to learn to carry out a whole series of tests such as those carried out at a clinical chemical laboratory in the Netherlands. They need to learn how things are done in practice so that they offer a better match when they reach the labour market.” 

Investment in equipment 

“With the generous gift from the HBF, a variety of lab equipment was purchased for STIKES. This included a rotary evaporator, which is similar to a sort of distillation device. It is used for example in experiments to extract the active ingredients from medicinal herbs using a solvent. To then concentrate the extracted ingredients, the solvent has to be evaporated off using the rotary evaporator. That makes it possible to concentrate the active ingredients by a factor of 50,” continued Dolf.  

In addition to the rotary evaporator, investments were also made in a set of analytical scales, a biological safety cabinet that ensures that the user is protected against contamination when working with bacteria, and a spectrophotometer that allows you to measure the colour intensity of coloured solutions, so you can determine the concentration of the substances in solution. 

Dolf went on, “Three years ago they had almost nothing; a tiny laboratory for urine testing and one for simple intestinal and blood parasite tests. We agreed that they would invest in microscopes, glasswork and sterilisation equipment among others. There was also a practically empty space that was to be turned into a practical research laboratory. They had started a study programme, but they had not yet purchased all the necessary basic equipment. Now they do have all the equipment they need, and I taught them how to use it. My main focus was on hygiene and safety. They have made real advances in both of those areas, and the same applies to the equipment and layout of the laboratory, too. In addition they now have several different types of laboratories, where different activities are carried out. All in all, the situation is far more professional than it was in the past.”  

“In the period 2017-2018, we observed remarkable improvements in a number of areas such as laboratory management and equipment, teaching methods, English language skills and student participation levels in the classes. Thanks to Dolf and the HBF fund, we took delivery of laboratory equipment here in Gorontalo, that was sent from the Netherlands. The lecturer and the staff also received training on how to use the equipment, so that they were able to create a healthy and safe working environment,” explained Ayu Anastasya Rachman, head of the international cooperation and language studies office at YBMG.  

Dolf concluded proudly, “The staff at Yayasan Bina Mandiri Gorontalo are very willing to learn and innovate. They wanted that the whole of their institution to advance to the level of university of applied sciences. And they recently achieved that goal, too!”  

Since November 2019 the three schools of YBMG merged into the University of Bina Mandiri Gorontalo, in which STIKES now is the Faculty of Health, Technology and Science. 


Text: HoYing Choy

Photos: Dolf Evenberg & Yayasan Bina Mandiri