Brain drain: The persistent out-migration of many of the best young minds cripples societies in the developing world by removing future leaders, educators and researchers--those required to develop a modern community that includes science and technology. The effects of brain drain are exacerbated by governments' weak support for whatever talent remains in science education. In Africa, for example, faculty are so severely underpaid that most of them must take second and even third jobs to survive, and their teaching loads are heavy. These conditions make it virtually impossible to do serious research. Also, governments in Africa give almost no support for graduate students, so faculty do not have the quick hands and fresh thinking that help propel research in the United States. These overburdened faculty also lack modern equipment and ready ways to update their skills. Despite these obstacles, small scientific programs of high quality do exist, even in some of the poorest countries. Such communities could be enhanced considerably, and their successes more likely replicated, by the simple sustained presence of trained scientists, young or old, from the developed and the advanced developing countries. Article here.
Already in this young century, mathematics has continued to strengthen its internal development, extend its interactions with the sciences and engineering and open new partnerships in fields beyond science. As the uses of mathematics proliferate, so does the imperative for every nation to develop and maintain a "critical mass" of mathematics researchers and educators. Unfortunately, the mathematics communities of many developing countries have been weakened by years of brain drain, civil unrest, and inadequate educational resources. After several years of planning, an African Task Force has recently designed an African Millennium Science Initiative to be implemented in sub-Saharan Africa. Article here.
Response From SIG Chairman Phillip Griffiths to SciDev.Net Editorial: The World Bank Does Care About Science
A recent SciDev.Net editorial asked: Does the World Bank really care about science? My answer is yes, it does. James Wolfensohn, president of the World Bank, chairs the board of trustees of the Princeton-based Institute for Advanced Study, where I am director. Five years ago, he asked me to help him and his colleagues in the Bank to establish a program that would infuse in Bank client countries some of the qualities and goals of the Institute, which fosters scientific excellence in conditions conducive to productivity--certainly a visionary concept for the developing world. Wolfensohn appreciates the benefits of science for sustainable development, and he was insistent that capacity building in science and technology, involving active, world-class scientific research, training and applications in client countries become part of the Bank's Comprehensive Development Framework. Article here.
The World Bank today approved a $25.26 million loan to strengthen development of science and technology in Chile, to spread innovation and increase competitiveness and economic growth. The Science for the Knowledge Economy Project will fund research in science and technology, while supporting the Government of Chile in its efforts to establish an integrated approach to scientific learning and technological innovation. This loan builds on the success of the Millennium Science Initiative (MSI) undertaken in 1999 by Chile's Ministry of Planning and Cooperation with a five million dollar learning and innovation loan from the World Bank. "Knowledge and technical innovation are increasingly crucial to Chile's economic progress and long-term prosperity," said Axel van Trotsenburg, the World Bank Country Director of Chile. "This investment in the knowledge-based economy aims to improve national expertise in science and technology and enhance Chile's competitiveness in a way that will benefit all Chileans." Press release here.
Professor Vincent Titanji, a leader of the Africa Biology MSI, was recently honored by the Government of Cameroon as a Cameroon Knight of the Order of Valour. Professor Titanji was among the few scientists so honored at a special closing ceremony during the nation's 2003 Science and Technology Week. Announcement here.