Surfing back to the debate on Ghanaweb, i monitored a stream of ideas emanating from the direction of Atsu Amegashie. He was vigorously arguing that Ghanaian universities could make up for deficits arising from the 'brain drain' by implementing a simple "visiting professor" programme. In such a scheme, interested Ghanaian professors who are currently teaching in North American would visit Ghana for a few weeks each year to deliver teaching and research services in the participating institutions. "Most diasporan professors in North America," he wrote,
...do not teach in the summer. At least, those at research universities do not. Our universities can create a database of such professors...a network of Ghanaian diasporan professors who will teach in Ghana periodically. I am aware that the World Bank is working on a similar idea. Indeed, this is exactly what Israeli/Jewish professors in the USA do. The leading Jewish/Israeli economics professors in the elite USA universities are partially affiliated with Tel Aviv and Hebrew Universities in Israel. This has made these two universities one of the best in the world. A recent ranking of economics departments in Europe placed Tel Aviv University at # 1 ahead of the London school of economics. Note that there are only 5 universities in Israel. These Israeli universities achieved this remarkable feat, in part, by tapping the fine brains of their citizens and other Jews in the diaspora.
With "education 2.0" on my mind, I seconded Atsu's suggestion, adding that those professors who participated in such "partial-affiliate" programes need not confine their contributions to the traditional delivery of lectures in classrooms. While still abroad, they could augment the resources available to local universities by putting relevant course material on line, just like the folks over at MIT have done with their OpenCourseWare. With the right tools and some innovative improvisation, they could even hold interactive lecture sessions in real time with students. Where internet access is not available or is unreliable, professors in the diaspora could organize the systematic selection, retrieval, copying (on CDs, USB flash drives…) and shipment of opencouseware back home where they can be assessed offline by students and lecturers alike. By helping in these ways to bring both their own and other world-class teaching materials into African classrooms, our professors who currently live and teach abroad would be delivering much needed educational services all year round, instead of the summer months only. When all is said and well done, Africa's brain drain may indeed be a blessing in disguise--in a Web 2.0 universe, at least.