Brain-Drain to Brain-Gain

In his article, Matthew Shaer notes the difficulties many countries in Africa have with brain drain. An estimated 20,000 professionals leave Africa each year to look for jobs in countries that are more economically successful. In an attempt to combat this brain drain, e-learning initiatives are being started to help connect students with the rest of the world while keeping their feet on the ground in Africa. “Since 1997, the Nairobi, Kenya–based African Virtual University has worked to improve access to web-based learning in sub-Saharan Africa,” and this will provide students all across that region with the type of resources the wish to find in the countries they are emigrating to. The courses provide a model called the “webinar,” which connects students and teachers through video and audio. These classes are intimate closely overseen so the teaching provided is as effective as possible.

There are some, like Conrad Coyanda-Parkzes, CEO of a telecom company called AccessPoint, who argue against these initiatives claiming that they are a band-aid solution to a very deeply rooted problem. Coyanda-Parkzes claims, “I don’t see enough lobbying for the basic stuff—electricity, the roads.” This is a great point, but at the end of the day, these students are experiencing and learning, which is something they have never done before – and that is what matters.

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2 responses to “Brain-Drain to Brain-Gain

  • nslondon

    I think the connection between brain drain and e-learning is really interesting – making a quality education accessible to residents of developing countries through ICT’s could be one good way to encourage them not to emigrate. But that only helps those who leave in search of a better education – many people migrate to wealthier and more developed countries in search of employment and other economic opportunities that just aren’t available in their country of origin. In connection with this idea, many of these migrants send remittances back to family members in their home countries and I would be interested to learn more about the role ICT’s play in enabling these kinds of money transfers!

  • hpohnan

    This is a topical issue for New Orleans. In the past the city (and particularly the state) had suffered from brain drain since all the college graduates were going elsewhere to pursue careers. In my urban sociology class we talked about how now NOLA is starting to experience brain gain. Students come down here for college and end up staying in the long term. I’ve definitely noticed an influx of recent college graduates from across the country who decided to move to New Orleans. I’d love to stay in New Orleans so I can see the long term effect it has on the city.

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