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Turning brain drain into “brain gain”


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HP EdTech Innovators Award supports educators using technology in creative ways.

UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) and HP are using grid and cloud computing technology to connect universities in Africa and the Middle East to global research networks.
Universities involved can re-establish or strengthen links between researchers who have stayed in their home countries and those who left, connecting scientists to international peers, academic networks and funding opportunities.

Countries in these regions are struggling to slow an exodus of scientists, academics and other professionals – many of them with irreplaceable skills and experience. For example, replacing highly qualified Africans who have emigrated is currently costing African countries a combined estimate of
$4 billion annually.1

Using grid and cloud technology

Using grid and cloud technology Grid infrastructure enables science to be done anywhere, at any time, by anyone who has the knowledge. Based on the same idea as the World Wide Web, the grid goes much further, by sharing not only information but also computing power, scientific instruments and research laboratories.
By logging on to a grid via a PC, scientists can access resources all over the planet. Cloud computing will also play a role in the UNESCO-HP project. The ‘cloud’ provides dynamically scalable and virtualized IT resources as services over the Internet. Different combinations will be used in different countries, depending on their requirements.

Best practices

Best practices South East Europe
UNESCO and HP first started to collaborate six years ago in South East Europe. The project – “Piloting Solutions for Alleviating Brain Drain in South East Europe” – began with the transfer of technology to universities in the region, allowing young scientists to link up with fellow nationals
abroad through a grid-enabled IT platform. Four universities (one in Croatia, one in Montenegro, and two in Sarajevo) have become self-sustainable in the use of grid technology. The project continues in two other universities (in Belgrade and Tirana). In some cases, the universities are able to bid for public and private sector funded research projects, thus encouraging scientists to continue their research in their home country.

Best practices Africa
Five universities, in Algeria, Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal and Zimbabwe have been testing the application of grid technology in a pilot phase that began in 2006. Cheikh Anta Diop University (UCAD) in Dakar, Senegal, has taken an important first step to bridge the digital divide
between North and South. It was the first university in sub-Saharan Africa to benefit from the installation of a grid technology under the pilot phase in Africa. The new infrastructure has helped facilitate international scientific cooperation across Sub-Saharan Africa as a whole and for Senegal in particular.

Further information:

» UNESCO Brain Gain Webpage non-hp site
» Brain Gain Whitepaper non-hp site
» Case Study
» Press release: HP and UNESCO expand joint project to increase brain gain in Africa and the Middle East
» Podcast: UNESCO-HP’s Brain gain project: Building an ICT lifeline for African and Arab universities
» Feature Story: Mobilising the Diaspora: UNESCO and HP create a virtual “brain gain” for African and Arab universities

Best practices

1International Organization for Migration, Facts and Figures on International Migration, Migration Policy Issues no. 2, 2003

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