By Zimbabwe Minister of Education, Sport, Arts and Culture David Coltart
Africa is a bountiful continent, with opportunity at every corner. The world is slowly but surely waking up to the realization that an ‘African Age’ of investment, infrastructural development, trade, and economic prosperity is on the horizon. There are however, key challenges to sustaining this boom – and retaining the talent that will bring this potential horizon to focus is indeed one of them.
I, like my fellow contributors at AfricanBrains, believe that students will choose to study and go on to work in our Zimbabwe and indeed in Africa if they have access to high-quality education and perhaps by way of international support, are given the now-precious resource of modern, innovative technology.
As African economies connect and grow, employers will look to secure qualified personnel to pursue long-lasting development. However, it is a sad reality that many African citizens are still turning to western nations for their college and university educations and potentially using acquired skills abroad in their established careers. As a matter of fact, a recent study has reported that approximately half of African students who study in Europe and the United States later take up employment there as opposed to returning back to Africa.
Stopping the brain drain has become a necessity for Africa, so governments, companies and donors are trying to help young Africans to stay.
Often by circumventing traditional channels of foreign aid and promoting direct donations to the Education sector (such as Zimbabwe’s Education Transition Fund, now in its second phase), the introduction of IT in the classroom and better working conditions for students can become a tangible truth.
The development of E-libraries, such as those we see budding from countries such as Nigeria, South Africa and Morocco, are setting a decided tone, as they are providing free wi-fi access and overarching technical resource and education to the workforce of the next generation.
The accomplishments of African Brains in dynamically connecting Africa in fields such as science, research and development are unparalleled. Their methods of fostering public-private partnerships through one-to-one meetings to benefit education throughout the continent have proven to be a benchmark, a formula applicable worldwide. They understand that it is only together that we can identify problems with technology, with politics as usual, and sort out better solutions.
It is indeed time to set out a roadmap, a course of action that the continent must adhere to together in order to continue promoting the creation and dissemination of knowledge — one of the most powerful tools in combating poverty.