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Africa to sponsor 10,000 diaspora scholars

Africa plans to sponsor 10,000 diaspora academics working across the continent over the next 10 years, in a scaling-up of the 2013 Carnegie African Diaspora Fellowship Program.

Dakar, Senegal, where the African Higher Education Summit was held. Photo: Jeff Attaway.

Universities and colleges must play a role by providing institutional support for faculty and student exchanges

The initiative aimed to reframe Africa’s ‘brain drain’ crisis into ‘brain circulation’ and now its ‘Mobilise the Diaspora’ project will sponsor 1,000 scholars in the African diaspora every year to work with higher education institutions across the continent.

“A lot of the diaspora is ready, willing and able to contribute to Africa’s engagement with regards to higher education institutions”

The project was proposed through the Draft Declaration and Action Plan of the 1st African Higher Education Summit on Revitalising Higher Education for Africa’s Future published after the summit held in Senegal last month.

It will operate “across all disciplines… for collaboration in research, curriculum development, and graduate student teaching and mentoring”, the declaration says.

“The diaspora is a huge force,” Paul Zeleza, vice-president for academic affairs at Quinnipiac University in the US and leader of the ‘10/10’ project, commented during the summit.

“In the United States there are at least 25,000 African academics working at universities,” he elaborated. “And a lot of the diaspora is ready, willing and able to contribute to Africa’s engagement with regards to higher education institutions.”

The plan does not specify how the initiative would be funded as it has yet to be developed, but it does state that universities must play a financial role by providing institutional support for faculty and student exchanges in the form of grants, travel stipends and cost sharing.

Meanwhile, organisers are advising governments to invest in the initiative in a number of ways, including in technology to facilitate distance learning and collaboration between institutions, and by promoting travel policies that facilitate travel for academics.

Governments are also being urged to collaborate with multilateral organisations such as the African Association of Universities, AU and CODESRIA, “to intensify the continental effort at creating and broadening the scope of research partnerships with universities and organisations both within and outside Africa”.

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