SOUTHERN AFRICA: Exchanges for human development

South African, Zambian and Zimbabwean universities have signed a memorandum of understanding for the exchange of staff and students, a leading Zimbabwean academic said last week.

Zimbabwe's Chinhoyi University of Technology Vice-chancellor Professor David Simbi told a graduation ceremony presided over by the country's autocratic ruler President Robert Mugabe that his institution has entered into a partnership with South Africa's University of Venda and with the University of Zambia.

"We have an existing arrangement with the two universities and others have expressed an interest," said Simbi.

He added that two other South African universities - the Vaal University of Technology and the Central University of Technology - have expressed interest in signing an MoU to collaborate on research into human capital development.

Zimbabwe's university of technology, which Simbi leads, is one of five African universities participating in an initiative launched by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco) to mitigate against brain drain through assisting institutions of higher learning.

The initiative, 'Piloting solutions for reversing brain drain into brain gain for Africa', is run in partnership with Hewlett Packard.

In January this year University World News reported the Unesco initiative had itself suffered brain drain as some of those trained to oversee it at the Zimbabwean institution had since left.

During the latest graduation ceremony, Simbi said the flight of qualified staff and the inability to attract quality human capital is negatively impacting on Zimbabwe's development.

He added that the university has adopted the 'brain circulation' strategy to foster postgraduate research development through facilitating collaboratively supervised master of philosophy and doctor of philosophy degree projects, through inviting people with PhD qualifications to assist in tutoring.

The academic paid tribute to the International Organization for Migration, working in partnership with the Southern African Regional Universities Association, which has so far facilitated the return of 31 lecturers to Zimbabwe on a short-term basis.

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