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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

What about an Ivy League University in Africa?

Two Africans who are so concerned about Africa's 'brain drain' have raised the following questions/suggestions:

"When we talk about Increasing African Human Capital different ideas come to mind. In regards to education, would an Ivy League school like Princeton, Yale or Harvard benefit on having a location in Africa ? Would this keep Africans in Africa ? What would keep educated minds in Africa ?"

"The best AID to Africa would be education. The presence of a top tier school in our region (e.g. Harvard University) will go further than billions of dollars in terms of improving African Human Capital in the long run. Africa has the precursor to success (the brain), all that is needed is a place to nurture them. In ... it was said, “teach a man to fish instead of giving him fish”. In addition to that, the presence of such an institution in such a location will give an opportunity to more people. It will help stimulate economic growth and start planting seeds for our own 'silicon valley'"

WHAT DO YOU THINK?

2 comments:

Chambi Chachage October 13, 2011 at 5:38 PM  

Chambi Chachage said...
Here are some comments:

FROM THE US:

This is a typical slavery/colonial mentality. What not make our own? Are Ivy League universities everything to Africans and Africa? The Japanese don't have one. The Chinese don't have one. The Indian don't have one but imitated the MIT, and HBS, etc. Why do want to copy somebody's else always?

Poor Africa! Poor Africans!

FROM CANADA:

The current formal western 'education' that Africans get tends towards being incompatible with our ethnic/national identities (for example my being part of the Iteso of Uganda), for one, it does not recognise my cultural learning systems as 'education'. Therefore moving that kind of education closer geographically would not achieve what the two scholars propose, i.e. less 'brain' drain. I think that for me a more useful discussion is the question: is the 'brain' that is now seen as being drained from Africa useful for the bulk of the peoples of Africa? Asked another way, should I be a proud western 'educated' African or of being a person from among the Iteso who is well educated in the ways of the Iteso or both? I think that both is good ... will this be achieved if an ivy league university is located in my ancestral village, without a change in curriculum, probably not. Should I be surprised that someone who is 'educated' in the global western ways wants to migrate to the global west? Me thinks not!

[Way Forward:] Revisiting the Nyerere way, re-examing our school curriculums for relevance and appreciating our African knowledge as mainstream as opposed to an alternative to the mainstream ... kind of the Chinese way ...

FROM THE UK:

Well, on the one hand we call it 'Brain drain or gain' but on the other hand we call it 'BRAIN EXPORT' see an interesting article by Professors Yaw Nyarko and William Easterly of New York University attached.

http://www.nyu.edu/africahouse/forresearchers/africana/Mig120506EasterlyNyarko.pdf

FROM TANZANIA/USA:

Its not found in Africa and we do not want to find it in Africa. Perhaps a quick wikipedia search on the origin and current status of ivy league schools would help in stressing that we do not want an ivy school in Africa. Similarly we do not want the eliticist French and German education systems either. It will certainly not be for the benefit of the majority. these are schools reserved for a few so called "deserving kids": however we define "deserving".

FROM TANZANIA:

can someone tell me where we can find 'ivy' in Africa?

Chambi Chachage October 14, 2011 at 4:53 AM  

Here are some more comments:

FROM TANZANIA:

Would that have anything to do changing mindsets and attitude? Universities or facilties are in our own minds and ways of thinking, not with Ivy the likes.

FROM TANZANIA:

[...] has summed up very well the point behind my question. Even the framing of the idea an 'ivy' league show it is a potted plant from outside that might take over the indigenous vegetation, like sangara took over the fish in Lake Victoria and then became big business for a few.


FROM THE UK:

The Ivy League is a special group of some elite universities in the United States (Harvard, Yale, etc). In the UK there are a several groups, such as the Russell group of Universities and the 1994 group of universities. Copying the Ivy League model cannot address the underlying problems of brain drain in Africa. Brain drain is a complex web of factors pushing skilled professionals out of Africa to seek green pastures in developed countries. Furthermore, political and civil conflicts compound the exodus of professionals out of Africa. Some of the socio-economic ills of brain drain are that Africa is losing out an estimated 20,000 highly qualified professionals each year, meanwhile the continent is hiring 100,000 so called 'experts' to work in Africa at a cost of US$4 billion a year.

The argument of remittances to Africa from the brain drain in the Diaspora is acknowledged and documented by UN and International Organisation of Migration. However, the cost of brain drain outweighs the benefits; hence Africa is at a loss. Thus an Ivy League in Africa would be an instrument for exclusion and a factory for professionals ‘educated in Africa, working in developed countries' thereby creating a vicious cycle of brain drain.

African countries on individual basis need to analyse their macro, and micro environments, understand their positions and put in place strategies to minimize brain drain and brain waste.

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