Scholars strategise on how to transform Africa’s brain drain into a gain for education
31 March 2016
Author: Jackline Nyerere
Young graduate: Involving African diaspora scholars has the potential to raise the quality of African higher education. Photo: Chandler Christian /Flickr

An initiative to engage African scholars in the diaspora in order to facilitate their contribution towards the growth of tertiary education in the continent has been set in motion. Spearheaded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Carnegie African Diaspora Fellowship Programme aims to engage African academic diaspora to contribute towards developing tertiary education in Africa through, among other contributions, joint development of university curriculums, collaborative research and graduate students’ co-supervision and training.

The overall aim is to reverse the effects of the brain drain that has afflicted the continent for several decades and resulted in the decline in quality of tertiary education.

Importantly, the initiative plans to put in place mechanisms that will make this possible without necessarily having African scholars in the diaspora relocate back to the continent. A forum convened jointly by the Carnegie Corporation and the United States International University ““ Africa (USIU-A) on 25th March 2016 resolved to expand the geographic catchment area for the scholars to include countries outside of North America. A key objective is to involve at least 1000 African diaspora scholars from all disciplines for a period of 10 years in what has been termed the “10/10 Programme.” The forum was part of the agenda at the 2016 Carnegie African Diaspora Fellowship Programme Council Meeting. The Executive Director, Dr. Eliya Zulu and Dr. Jackline Nyerere represented AFIDEP.

The present effort will finally effect a decision first made in 2014 and ratified at the 1st African Higher Education Summit held in Dakar in March 2015, to scale up the “10/10 Programme” and to involve other research and policy organisations as hosts of African diaspora fellows.

Presenters at the event included Prof. Omotade Akin Aina, the Executive Director of the Partnership for African Social and Governance Research at the Carnegie Corporation; Jeremy Coats, the Programme Officer at the Institute of International Education (IIE); and Claudia Frittelli, Programme Officer for Higher Education and Research in Africa at the Carnegie Corporation.

There was an open discussion led by Prof. Emmanuel Akyeampong of Harvard University, Dr. Catherine Kyobutungi of the African Population and Health Research Centre (APHRC), and Prof. Ilesanmi Adesai of the University of Illinois.

Discussions mainly focused on the involvement of African diaspora academics in the continent’s higher education and the role of different stakeholders and strategies to mobilise and support these academics to participate in improving the quality of tertiary education in Africa. The meeting also received contributions from two programme collaborators who have hosted the African Diaspora Fellows at the University of Nairobi and Daystar University.

Dr. Jackline Nyerere is a research fellow at AFIDEP.

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