Idea alert -

Idea alert


Keith Martin suggests we send the professors to Africa.

His early ideas had focused on getting doctors to developing nations. But Martin, a physician who has been to Africa 26 times, realized medical help alone wasn’t enough: without essentials like clean water, a local doctor’s good work could be quickly undone. So he hit upon the idea of centres for international health and development in universities that could serve as talent pools for the developing world.

He says campuses have the array of talents so often in demand in Third World countries – medicine, nursing, engineering, veterinary sciences, law, business and education. His pitch isn’t aimed at students. Rather it’s targeted at the professors, perhaps those nearing retirement, who are the experts in their fields, have the skills to work unsupervised and at this point in their life, have the time to spend in a developing nation.


Idea alert

  1. Its a great idea, much better than Ignatieff's idea to just increase aid to Africa. Remember Iggy's "Harper abandoned Africa" speech? Funding has actually gone up but not up high enough I guess.

    Instead of sending money that gets stolen or wasted sending this kind of talent would be a much better investment.

    Of course, they'd need some sort of force protection. With all the kidnappings and violence its a little naive to think they'll be an island in a sea of chaos.

  2. That's a great idea, and I hope it gets traction. Maybe those professors can take some students with them too, providing the valuable expertise of professors and giving students the opportunity to interact and learn in a completely different environment than they're used to.

  3. Keith Martin is a very good MP and deserves credit for initiatives like this one and like the CHRC initiatives he helped to spearhead.

  4. It's an excellent idea, and an organization already exists to arrange work terms for Canadian academics in developing countries:

    It's a tiny group with a very modest budget; if more people could get behind it, it would be a wonderful thing.

    • Yes, i know of some retired academics who literally stepped out into the blue like this. In their case it was the Ukraine – not developing but…marvelous brave people

  5. Yes i know of some retired academics who literally stepped out into the blue like this. In their case it was the Ukraine – not developing but…marvelous brave people.

  6. I think you'd have to do the math on this, but it may be more cost-effective to instead change how we deal with foreign students coming to Canada from abroad. For instance, we could give subsidize tuition or set aside spots for people from developing countries. I think when you do it at home you:
    A. don't have to construct entirely new institutions.
    B. limit the risk that funds will be abused by corrupt developing world governments
    C. don't have to pay professors extra to live in Africa for X years.
    D. give students access to resources (eg. particle accelerators) that they are not likely to have at home
    E. shield students from political violence and instability, which may inhibit their studies at home (as well as the survival of schools)

    It is also better for the donor country (us) because it means that the educated professionals (ie. influential high status people) in country X are going to have lived in Canada for some period of time, and will have social ties to us (which could result in more favourable relations).

    I realize it isn't perfect, since there may be a different emphasis of studies here vs. there. Still, I prefer my approach. It is one that has worked for centuries. Germans became leaders in chemical dye by going to British universities (at first). The Japanese sent students to British school and learned from them. Today, American universities are full of Chinese and Korean students doing the same.

  7. This is a paternalistic and neo-imperialistic view of Africa from Martin.

    China and Saudi Arabia are investing billions of dollars in Africa creating permanent jobs and employment in the energy, mining and agriculture industries.

    Africa doesn't need aid. It needs investment.

    Belinda Stronach's and Rick Mercer's charity for mosquito nets, destroyed the indigenous African mosquito net industry, because they didn't buy their mosquito nets in Africa.

    Somebody should send Martin a copy of Dead Aid, by Dambisa Moyo.

  8. And how many people were able to afford those indigenous nets? That is the point…right. Saving lives.