Brain Gain, not brain drain; empowering indigenous innovation and leadership
An organization devoted to switching the direction of where the pipes flow: Brain Gain, not brain drain.
Karibuni Sana (Welcome)
I would like to emphasize that this is a brand new idea that is in constant expansion and change. I only thought of this idea over the last week but it is built off of years of international experience. I am a RPCV from the Philippines, currently pursuing a PhD in environmental engineering, focused on appropriate technology in Tanzania. My wife is also a RPCV from the Philippines and has worked as a program manager in Africa for a development NGO. I humbly request any feedback or ideas that you may have.
The idea is to create a US based non-profit organization designated, Brain Gain. The basic idea is to stop the one way flow of intellectuals to developed countries, referred to as brain drain. Although this does not pertain specifically to the categories of this contest, it aims to address many of the vital problems plaguing rural Africa. The depletion of the brightest and most capable people in developing countries has been going on for many decades. The leaders and intellectuals that would most likely aid in the growth and development of the country leave for better jobs in 1st world nations. But who can blame them, many of them lack a social pride for their nation, they view the quality of life to be better in their new country, and if they return to their home country good high paying jobs are very difficult to find if not impossible. This is a global issue and will take many years to remedy but Brain Gain will concentrate on affecting the individuals that are recipients of scholarships to study abroad in developed countries in North America, Europe, and Australia. It is vitally important that most of these students return to their home countries in order to bring back new knowledge and ideas, international experience, leadership, and cultural exchange. It is important for them to come back and be leading scientists, engineers, businessman, and government officials, thus being role models for future generations.
Within ten years Brain Gain aims to have headquarters in fifty of the most impoverished countries around the world, many of them in Africa. The field headquarters will be staffed by local trained professionals. These field headquarters will be monitored from an office of American staff in the United States. Brain Gain will collaborate with scholarship funding agencies that send students abroad to study. These will include governments, religious organizations, universities, and private donors. Once a student is accepted, they will register with Brain Gain with their contact information, interests, field of study, and expected departure date. Brain Gain will have continuous contact with the students before, during and after their studies, helping them adapt to new cultures and eventually to returning back home.
The projects scope is global and will take a few years to be accepted by governments and international organizations. The accreditation, feedback, and funding from Africa Rural Connect will provide Brain Gain with a basis to grow and expand as we work towards accomplishing our goals and becoming a long term sustainable international non-profit organization. Future funding will be procured through grant proposals to international donor and funding organizations as well as the countless organizations involved in international scholarships. These organizations will have an invested interest in the sustainable work that Brain Gain can accomplish by improving the success rate of study completion. Moreover, the organizations that have the most invested interest in what Brain Gain will do and who will hopefully provide in-country infrastructure and offices as a counterpart are the developing countries themselves.
Cultural and Language Lessons
Provide the students with an introduction to the type of cultural and idiosyncrasies they should expect in their host country. This will allow them to feel more comfortable in their surroundings and enable them to better adapt, thus improving the quality of their education. In-country biannual training, designed around the start dates of the American and British education systems, will be provided for scholarship recipients. The trainings will provide information about the culture, communication, and social differences found in their new schools and environment. Additionally, even though the students will already be adequate in English, general English lessons will be conducted mainly to identify areas of weakness and ways to improve. The students will also be provided with information such as packing lists, schedules, and necessary documents that must be completed before departure.
During the trainings, discussions and sharing sessions will also be conducted pertaining to the uniqueness, history and future of their home nation. In order for the students to want to return home, there first must be a sense of national pride and a belief that their country has a future and upon returning, their potential role for its success.
Support and Information Source
Brain Gain will act as a support network for the students providing them a place to direct any questions. It will also act as an information bank for things like international meetings and organizations in the area, religious institutions, current students from their country, and various other types of useful information to students adapting to a new unfamiliar country.
Brain Gain staff will send monthly emails updating them on current events and information about their home country. It will act as a newsletter, and will include job postings, student stories, educational opportunities, and general news from home.
Leadership and Ethics Courses
In order to prepare the students for their future at home they will be required to take an online ethics and leadership course with a small amount of outside book and journal literature. The students will also be encouraged to maintain a journal.
In the spirit of Peace Corps goals 2 and 3, the students will be encouraged to give talks in their host country about their home country and culture. Brian Gain will assist them in identifying and arranging venues where they can give these information sessions.
A very important job of the home country staff is to network and identify professional opportunities for the students, hopefully in the students' home region. They will keep a bank of potential jobs and match them with the students' background and interests. Brain Gain staff will also help with setting up interviews and editing applications, resumes, and CV's.
Additionally, Brain Grain staff will identify future higher education opportunities in the students' field of interest.
Information Dissemination and Sharing
Another Brain Gain goal is to create a social network and support group for potential and future students and professionals. The returned students will be highly encouraged to give local talks about their experiences and will also be invited to talk with the incoming groups of students. Finally, the returned students will act as a resource and role models to the younger people of their country and will hopefully share what they have learned and information about the process of studying abroad.
The global issues in developing countries will not be solved by the introduction of a new technology, a way of doing things, or a small business enterprise. The issues have much stronger roots into the socio-economic situations of the various countries. From my observations the introduction of poverty solutions by international organizations are rarely successful and often times do more harm than good. The only true solution is to empower people and encourage indigenous innovation and business. The hope of a country and its greatest resource is its people. In order to seriously address the rural problems in Africa, whether they are related to water resources, agriculture, business, or communication, there first needs to be trained and motivated people in place to carry out these projects. A platform must be stable in order to build on and Brain Gain aims at helping create this social platform for the future construction of whole nations. The current solutions for international development are these small scale solutions that are having an impact but not the kind of long lasting one that would come from this kind of collaborative idea. What exists are simple small scale solutions to global problems. They are merely band aids on a breaking dam. Alternately, Brain Gain proposes to empower people to solve their own problems, and although this will not be a quick fix, in the long run it will prove to be the innovations and abilities of country nationals that will change and improve a nation.
Thank you very much for your time and consideration.
Got a suggestion on how to make this idea even better?REMIX IT!