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Last Updated: Thursday, 25 March, 2004, 14:49 GMT
Academics streaming out of Africa
Africa's "brain drain" is being made worse by private industry poaching the continent's best professors, a body representing a number of East African universities has said.

Makerere University
Makerere University is regarded as Africa's Harvard
Africa is suffering because many of its best minds leave for richer parts of the world - more than 10,000 left for America or Europe in 2003 alone.

But Professor Chacha Nyaigotti-Chacha, the executive secretary of the Inter University Council for East Africa in Nairobi, told BBC World Service's Africa Live programme that teaching quality was also being damaged because lecturers were being taken by private companies.

"There is brain drain, and it is affecting Africa in a very adverse way," he said.

"We do lose a number of people who are properly trained and well-grounded in their fields of specialisation to the west.

"But within the university system we also lose people from the universities to the private sector."

Factors

Professor Nyaigotti-Chacha said that this poaching was very damaging to the continent's universities.

In particular, they were getting little back from the money invested in professors and lecturers.

"I think it takes quite a lot of investment to prepare somebody up to a PhD or a good Masters, and put him in research or teaching in a university to prepare other people," he said.

"When you lose such a person, it means you have to start again, to prepare another person to come and fit into the shoes of the one you have lost.

"It's a very expensive affair."

However he added that it was not difficult to see why so many were opting for the private sector.

"The bottom line is the terms and conditions of service," he said.

Graduation ceremony
A monitoring mechanism of what the graduates do after returning home should be put in place
Pedro Cossa, Mozambique

"When you talk about terms and conditions, you are encompassing a number of other related aspects, including the general environment, within which a professor or developer is engaged to work."

A lack of money is a factor twice - not only does it mean poor pay, but it also severely limiting the amount of research that experts and professors can do, Professor Nyaigotti-Chacha added.

These claims were confirmed by Obong Quintas, a lecturer in politics at one of Africa's best-known universities, Makerere University in Uganda.

"I'm definitely proud to be at this university, the premier university in this country," he said.

"But of course there are conditions here that really frustrate our efforts to grow as intellectuals.

"We talk about the big numbers of students - we don't care about the actual quality of learning."

Innovative

But he said what was even more important was renumiration of teachers, which he said was "so low."

His total pay per month was just over $250, and consequently a job offer lecturing abroad would be tempting.

"The pay is so low, the environment doesn't allow me to work - it's easy for someone to leave," he said.

"There are many who have gone."

However, Asingwire Narathius, a senior lecturer and the head of Makerere's department of social work, stressed that he felt it was possible to do well.

"I'm very proud to be working at Makerere - it's the Harvard of Africa," he said.

"I think it's very prestigious."

He added that as a proud Ugandan he was happy to be at the University.

"There are so many opportunities here if you can use your head... certainly the pay isn't good, but - I am talking in my personal capacity - you've got to use your head to be innovative.

"You do research work, you do consulting work, and you subsidise the pay that you get."


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