|The Courier N° 159 - Sept - Oct 1996 - Dossier: Investing in People - Country Reports: Mali ; Western Samoa (EC Courier, 1996, 96 p.)|
(Dossier coordinated by Augustine Oyowe)
Previous editions of The Courier have dealt, separately and at length, with various aspects of human resource development, especially in the context of recent dossiers on population and social development, education and training, public health, women, and poverty. Our current dossier looks at the issue from the investment perspective.
To say that investing in people makes economic sense is to state the obvious. But to what extent are the implications of this statement fully understood in the developing countries, especially in sub-Saharan Africa in these days of constantly shifting development theories?
Labour or 'human capital' has long been recognised as a key factor of economic growth. As opposed to sustainable human development, which places human beings at the centre of economic activities (the recipient of the fruits of economic progess), 'human capital' places them at the beginning of the process. The difference of approach is thus evident even though the objective is the same.
Investing in people is a concept which simultaneously combines 'human welfare' with the 'human capital' approach at the beginning of the economic development process. It encompasses nutrition, health and education, and should, under the right investment climate or conditions, enable any investor, whether State or individual, to reap an adequate return .
After three decades of considerable efforts at investment in health and education by sub-Saharan African countries, the returns in terms of standards of living, economic grovvth and rate of development have been extremely disappointing. The conclusion which can be drawn is that the conditions necessary for adequate returns on these investments have been absent.
Sub-Saharan Africa inherited from the colonial regimes, infrastructures in health delivery and education that were not only alien to its culture and traditions, but also totally inadequate for nation building. It is a well known fact that in 1960, there were no more than 1200 university graduates in Capital redefined
It is important when thinking of investnent in human resources to understand the real concept of capital. Below is an extract of a definition given by Stefan de Vylder (taken from his UNDP discussion paper: 'Sustainable Human Development and Macroeconomics strategic links and implications' .
A child in the North is born wealthy. His or her share of the capital accumulated by earlier generations is worth a fortune. The higher wages and salaries in the North, compared with those in the South, largely reflect differences in endowment of the country, rather than of the individual. The fact that, for example, a nurse in Germany earns 30 times more than one in Bangladesh or Zambia has little to do with individual differences in training or skills; the higher salaries in the North simply reflect the higher dividend on the capital bestowed from the past. Part of this wealth or heritage is easily visible: factories, roads, schools hospitals, universities, telecommunications, and other infrastructure.
However, there are other, less tangible, forms of capital that constitute a crucial complement to physical and infrastructural capital; parliamentary democracy, a free press, respect for human rights' norms for social interaction, systems of rapid dissemination of new ideas, trade unions and a myriad of other large or small social organisations, a judiciary system which, by and large, defends law and justice, and other institutions. This latter form of capital may be called institutional or social capital. It is also highly unevenly distributed in the world, with large differences both between the North and the South and within individual countries of the North as well as in the South the region as a whole. Indeed, some countries had no graduates at all and in others, they could be counted on the fingers of one hand. In what was effectively a race against time, African leaders understandably responded by investing massively in human resource development. This was made possible partly by small, but steady rates of economic growth and partly by sustained foreign assistance. Between 1960 and 1980, sub-Saharan African governments consistently allocated high proportions of their annual budgets to health and education. Households and individuals made similar efforts (accounting for nearly 75% of all spending on health). They made sacrifices and gave a high premium to the education of their children.
The results were tangible and very significant. By the late 1980s, sub-Saharan Africa was producing over 70 000 graduates a year. Major cities had hospitals and health centres and the rural areas, clinics and dispensaries. Amid a general improvement in nutrition and health-care delivery, the incidence of infectious disease, and maternal and infant mortality were considerably reduced.
Despite these achievements, the approach to manpower building by the post-independent African leaders was, to say the least, haphazard. As a result, a number of problems, such as the appropriateness of school curricula, under staffing and the long-term budget implications of recurrent expenditures, were overlooked (although reform efforts have since been attempted in some countries with varying degrees of success).
The consequences were felt in the 1980s when Africa's economic crisis was only just beginning. Health and school infrastructures deteriorated for lack of maintenance. There were shortages of qualified teachers and teaching materials leading to falls in educational standards as well as in primary school enrolments. And health systems failed for lack of personnel and drugs.
The situation has worsened as the continent's economic crisis has deepened-a crisis characterised by huge budget deficits, high inflation rates, sluggish growth rates and a heavy debt burden. Structural adjustment programmes (SAPs), introduced in response to this, have only served to undermine further the gains made in human resource development. SAPs have been aimed mainly at macroeconomic stabilisation, deregulation and privatisation of state enterprises, and the social sectors have lost out in the process. Subsidies on basic commodities, especially food, have been removed, civil servants and employees of state enterprises have been made redundant and cost-recovery has become the standard practice in medical services. These measures have all combined to produce a level of poverty never before seen in the region, a situation which has adversely affected nutritional standards, provoked malnutrition in many countries and reduced resistance generally to infectious diseases. Because of the rise in unemployment, large sections of the educated population have been rendered unproductive, a waste of several years investment by both the state and the individuals in question.
Appropriateness of skills
Although sub-Saharan Africa produced a large number of graduates before the economic crisis began, few had the kinds of skills needed for industry and agriculture. The evidence of this lies in the unsuccessful attempts by some governments in the late 1970s to indigenise executive positions, most of which required high levels of technological knowledge or experience. The 1980s saw a dramatic increase in the number of foreign technical assistants working on the continent and, paradoxically, in the number of qualified African professionals leaving, mainly for Western Europe, the United States and Canada.
International technical assistance to, or cooperation with, subSaharan Africa has intensified. Organisations such as the World Bank, IMF, UNDP, UNCTAD, UNESCO, European Union and Commonwealth are all involved in one form or another. The effectiveness of this assistance varies, however. This dossier features articles on the work of three of these bodies (the Commonwealth, UNDP and VNESCO). The Commonwealth Fund for Technical Cooperation was set up more than 25 years ago to mobilise Commonwealth skills to meet the needs of member states as required. The UNDP's TOKTEN programme is designed to reduce the negative impact of the brain drain by getting highly qualified developing country expatriates to contribute their skills to the development of their home countries without necessarily having to return permanently. Finally, UNESCO's university twinning programme is designed as a mechanism for the rapid transfer of technology and sharing of knowledge.
While international assistance or cooperation is indispensable, it is surely no substitute for Africa's own efforts at human resource development. Three years ago, Edward Jaycox, then World Bank Vice-President for the Africa Region, announced what appeared to be a change of policy at the annual conference of the African-American Institute in Washington DC. He said that the Bank would no longer pay for foreign technical assistants to help resolve African economic problems but would instead help African governments build their own capacity. Although the Bank has traditionally had enormous influence on development thinking and policy worldwide, the apparent policy change does not appear to have influenced other donors. Nor, indeed, is there any evidence that the Bank itself is implementing it vigorously. The number of foreign experts being sent to Africa continues to grow. There were over 100 000 in 1988.
Rationality of investing in people
In addition to the negative social impact, ten years of structural adjustment have not produced the sought-after stabilisation or the economic growth that was initally anticipated. Even the World Bank and IMF, who spearheaded the structural adjustment idea, have admitted that it has flaws and the need for a new approach to sub-Saharan Africa's economic problems could hardly be more urgent. In the Dossier, Giovanni Andreas Cornia argues for a new focus for structural adjustment, based on restoring adequate levels of public spending on health, education, social welfare and water supplies, so as to enable sub-Saharan Africa to restore and develop its human resources.
Evidence of the impact of a healthy and educated population on economic growth and development abound. Studies on the economies of the East Asian 'tigers' have all concluded that big investments in education in the late 1950s and 1960s were largely responsible for the rapid growth they have experienced in recent years. Malaysia, although a latecomer, appears to be following in the footsteps of its neighbours. After nearly two decades of investment in human resource development, and the introduction of a foreign investment policy which requires some technology transfer, the Government now predicts Malaysia will achieve 'fully developed' status by 2016-twenty years from now.
A relatively well-educated workforce and a certain amount of physical capital or natural resources are all a country needs to succeed economically. Sub-Saharan Africa has sufficient natural resources as is often pointed out. The other side of the equation-a relatively well-educated workforce-is missing.
Sub-Saharan Africa lags behind other regions in human resource development for a complex variety of reasons. The natural and political environment are not conducive to the delivery of social services: low population density and weak transport infrastructures make such delivery expensive and the achievement of economies of scale impossible. The region's climate favours a variety of diseases (such as malaria and sleeping sickness) and many areas have little or no access to natural water sources. Political instability and weak institutions also continue to cast a long shadow. Although these constraints are long-term, appropriate policy measures could reduce their negative impact significantly.
Giovanni Cornia analyses the distributive effects of appropriate health care, nutrition and education on economic growth. He suggests ways of making rational use of available resources for maximum returns and of mobilising funds through taxation, foreign aid and other sources.
In an age of increasing globalisation, where technology is more easily transferable across borders, a healthy and educated population is essential, not only for the absorption and use of new technology but also for meaningful participation in international trade.
It is insufficient, however, to have an educated workforce. Sub Saharan Africa must acquire the institutional and managerial capacity to make the right decisions, both in the public and private sectors. This is essential in the quest to eliminate poverty, achieve sustained and sustainable economic growth and ensure a realistic integration of the region into the global economy.
by Giovanni Andrea Cornia
Over the past two decades, a clear consensus, supported by a growing amount of empirical evidence, has emerged on the growth and distributive effects of appropriate health care, nutrition and education, and on the rationality of investing in human resources to promote development in low-income economies, and in sub-Saharan Africa in particular. It is now clear that public and private rates of return on investment in primary and secondary education are substantially greater than those in most industrial sectors. Similarly, it is now well demonstrated that nutritional interventions in favour of workers at low levels of food intake has a very large impact on labour productivity. Also, provision of simple but adequate nutrition and health care at an early age has been shown to spare substantially greater health outlays over the longer term. While the number of these examples can be multiplied, the lesson is overwhelmingly clear: investing in people is a sound development policy.
During the same two decades, a broad political consensus has also emerged on the need to establish realistic targets in these areas and mobilise adequate resources to achieve them. The latter decade, however, has also been characterised by a widespread and acute recession which has reached its lowest point in the African continent.
While there has been a general recognition of the link between the deterioration of the social sector and Africa's economic decline, the interpretations of the causes of this decline and how best to address them vary considerably.
The 1980s also witnessed the advent of structural adjustment, an approach aiming at revitalising economies affected by severe crises and which calls, amongst other things, for a reduction in public spending, including on social services. With sharp falls in revenues, it was argued, African governments could no longer afford to provide health and education free of charge.
Governments were to encourage instead the role of the private sector (since competition between state, private and non-governmental agencies fosters efficiency and enhances quality) and make households bear a greater share of the cost of publicly provided social services (as-it was alleged-households had a strong 'willingness to pay' for better quality health care and education).
In a debate characterised by an overwhelming concern for expenditure reduction, little thought was given to protecting the provision and effectiveness of basic health care and education for all. Nor was sufficient attention paid to the mobilisation of additional revenue through taxation, foreign aid or other measures Even the introduction of rationalisation measures, which would have allowed for use and preservation of limited resources, received scant attention. During this period, public policies often ignored a number of well-known public finance arguments concerning market failures, externalities, natural monopolies, etc. typical of basic health and education. It was all too often forgotten, for instance, that the market systematically undersupplies 'quasi-public goods' like education, safe water, immunisation and collective infrastructure (i.e. goods which produce benefits not only for consumers but also for society as a whole); that incomplete or non-existent markets alone are unable to provide complete insurance coverage against the risks of sickness and disability; that the free play of market forces can generate levels of poverty that are socially unacceptable, and that competition among many small providers does not allow for the realisation of the economies of scale which only the public sector can realise because of its size, administrative infrastructure and revenue raising ability.
Greater and better government involvement
In this paper, I will attempt to point out the main distortions in the social sector in sub-Saharan Africa and the major reforms, part of an alternative policy paradigm to the standard approach focusing on large expenditure reductions. My main line of argument is for more efficient and renewed but, in most cases, greater rather than less government involvement. I do not deny the important role of communities, nongovernmental bodies and private providers of social services, but the retreat of the state, which has been underway for several years in most of Africa, is palpably wrong: it may be a good survival strategy, it is definitely not a good development strategy.
Any approach to revitalisation of the social sector in Africa must aim at increasing both the quality and the relevance of services to the life, health and productivity of the population; enhancing efficiency; reducing distributive biases in the use of public expenditure, and improving the flow of both public and private resources to the social sector. These sets of measures are briefly discussed here.
Raising relevance, reducing unit costs and enhancing quality
Two basic initiatives are essential to the achievement of this goal. Firstly, it is necessary to adapt the content of services to the demands placed on the child, the adolescent and the family by the external environment. Secondly, in doing so, it is necessary to provide minimum resources, particularly recurrent inputs, for every unit of service offered.
Much can be done to improve the relevance of education in Africa. A key element in this is the wider use of African languages in the educational system. Admittedly such a step would probably encounter obstacles, but the results of pilot projects in the continent and experiences in several English speaking countries have been encouraging. The use of African languages should be expanded throughout primary and at least part of secondary schooling. And the curriculum of basic education should include basic health science, agriculture, food and nutrition, basic technological science, ecology and environmental studies as well as reading, writing, arithmetic, history, geography and elementary civics.
While responding more appropriately to the life and developmental needs of children and adolescents, these measures offer the potential to improve substantially the cost effectiveness of the educational system by reducing the number of drop-outs and repeaters, particularly if the measures are accompanied by school-based nutritional support programmes and by steps to ensure a steady, if basic, supply of teaching materials such as books, chalk, slates, pens, exercise books and so on. Minimum expenditures for the latter, estimated at $5-10 per child per year, have been shown to have a profound impact on the quality and attractiveness of education.
Improving the relevance and quality of African secondary and higher education will require an increase in the number of courses in science, engineering, agronomy, management and other fields. Given the limited success of vocational training and yet the profound need for this type of education, a more flexible approach may be appropriate. Business associations and ministries of labour, rather than ministries of education, for example, could organise the type of vocational training that responds more closely to labour market conditions. Much needs to be done to gear university research to local and national needs. Rather than maintaining the model of independent residential universities, faculties could interact more with and rely upon local institutions and non-governmental organisations.
In the health sector, a more vigorous approach is necessary to implement the 'Health for All' strategy. In particular, more attention must be paid to the quality of the training imparted to village health workers, the provision of minimum supplies of essential drugs, adequate supervision, the mobilisation of communities and the strengthening of family planning services in the first tier of the primary health care pyramid.
Greater efforts are needed to contain unit costs through the mobilisation of community resources (such as materials and time) and the introduction of 'product standards' and 'production techniques' more in line with local factor endowments. With respect to capital expenditure, one major source of potential savings is the substitution of imported materials with local ones in the construction of schools, clinics and other public health facilities. Through this approach, capital costs per student could be more than halved.
In health care, savings are also possible, in some cases, in wages and other recurrent expenditures. The potential for savings through increased efficiency in the procurement, management, storage, distribution and prescription of pharmaceuticals is substantial.
And there is a need for more carefully articulated manpower policies, with recognition of the cost implications of alternative skill mixes. Many tasks carried out by senior professionals can be performed by auxiliary personnel. In this regard, there is substantial scope for the application of nominal fees as a tool to guide demand for health care and thus increase efficiency.
Similar considerations are valid in the education sector. Despite considerable declines during the 1980s in both French-speaking and Eastern and Southern Africa, teacher salaries in the late 1980s were still considerably higher than per capita GNP in several countries. While a cutback may be possible in some countries, reductions below the 'efficiency wage' should be avoided as they affect the quality of teaching.
There are, of course, other approaches to reducing unit costs such as using teachers trained on crash courses and- paid salaries lower than that of fully trained ones, multi shift education to increase teaching hours, multigrade classes to increase class sizes and the creation of regional training centres with donor support. In addition, in most of sub-Saharan Africa, all university students receive fellowships to cover living expenses while at school. In many cases these fellowships represent a substantial proportion of total unit costs at the tertiary level. They add, in effect, to the regressive nature of educational subsidies and should be suppressed for all except for those who are least able to pay.
Substantial improvements in the distribution of benefits of public expenditure could be obtained through its restructuring towards basic services which benefit the poor more than they do the rich. This would mean, typically, the reallocation of part of the expenditure on hospitals to primary health care activities and part of the expenditure on universities to primary education. It would also mean that a greater share of investments in water supply and sanitation should be assigned to rural areas.
Correcting existing misallocation, however, is not simple, as capital and labour resources are only partially mobile. This is particularly true of capital expenditure which has already been invested in physical infrastructure. Inter sect oral reallocation is easier for recurrent expenditure, particularly when budgets are expanding, and it can lead to the achievement of more efficient and distributive gains.
Government subsidies need to be improved through effective targeting on 'merit goods' (such as food and shelter). Targeting is distributionally and administratively more effective when it is accomplished according to some objective criteria such as geography (the poorest areas), type of commodity ( low quality foods not consumed by the rich), easily identifiable population group (like pregnant women, young children, children in elementary school in poor areas, etc.) or season. It is less effective when carried out by means-testing or by targeting individuals.
The decentralisation of health care and education in the African context is likely to improve the geographical distribution of services. Poor communications and transport systems, population dispersion and the fact that the supervision of personnel, resource distribution and operations is easier at lower levels of administration, are all arguments in favour of such decentralisation. Nonetheless, where it means loss of control over the implementation of national policies (in curriculum development, manpower training, drug procurement and so forth) and excessive additional financial burdens on households and communities, decentralisation is potentially damaging. This was the experience of Kenya when the purchase of drugs was decentralised at the district level. It subsequently had to reverse this policy because of the problems.
Increasing the flow of resources to basic social services.
Despite the considerable scope for protecting and, in some cases, expanding the delivery of cost-effective and high-impact social services, even during periods of declining resources, there are limits to what can be achieved through the measures discussed above, particularly in countries where the share in GDP of public health and education expenditure is already low. Indeed in most African countries, the flow of resources to these sectors must be vastly increased. The options available include:
-Increasing the share of government expenditure on key social services.
Top priority should be given to a radical restructuring of government expenditure involving the shifting of resources towards those sectors with high social rates of return. Expenditure on defence can be cut substantially, while subsidies to chronically lossmaking public and private enterprises and interest payments on debt (the relief effect on foreign-debt interest payments of current provisions is utterly inadequate) should be reduced. If realistic expenditure restructuring like that proposed here were implemented, 1015% of overall public spending in many countries could be redirected to social activities with high rates of return. One half to two-thirds of these savings could be allocated to health care, nutrition, training, education and welfare, thus raising the share of these activities to about 30-35% of total expenditure.
Between the late 1970s and the mid-1980s, the average tax to GDP ratio for sub-Saharan Africa fell from 18% to 16-17%. (Only recently are there signs of recovery, but these are confined to only a few countries). This resulted mainly from the recession affecting the region and from the limited priority attached to revenue collection in most adjustment programmes implemented during the first part of the 1980s. In these 'first generation' programmes, the stabilisation of deficits was achieved mainly by cutting expenditure and raising excise duties. Increases in income taxes and progressive indirect taxes were far less frequent and land and property taxes were almost never introduced.
While taking effect rapidly, the measures implemented led to excessive drops in public expenditure on 'quasi public goods' and have had a regressive distributive impact. It is now widely recognised that a more active tax policy is needed. Such a policy should aim at improving revenue generation and enhancing the efficiency and equity of the overall tax system. This would permit a controlled rise in specific 'socially efficient' public expenditures, particularly basic health, primary and secondary education and public infrastructure.
In the 1980s, a number of countries, including Burkina Faso, Kenya, Malawi and Zimbabwe, initiated efforts to reform their tax systems. While the choice of optimal tax instruments has depended on specific country conditions, a few general principles of tax reform apply to all countries. First, colonial type tax systems emphasising the taxation of exports (and to some extent, of imports) should evolve towards systems which focus on income taxes, progressive and efficient indirect taxes and increases in the prices of such public utilities as telephone and electricity which benefit mainly the wealthier sections of society. Second, purchases of goods and services consumed by the poorest should be exempted from indirect taxes. Third, efforts should not concentrate on raising marginal tax rates but rather on broadening the tax base by reducing tax evasion and tax elusion, and fourth a low, uniform and broad-based tax on wealth (such as on land or other assets) should be introduced.
A non-distortionary and equitably-spread increase in the tax ratio equivalent to 2-3% of GPD is technically feasible in a good number of African countries and would by itself add to the real flow of resources to health care and education by about 15%, even assuming no growth and no shift in priorities towards the social sector.
-Introducing 'earmarked' taxes or raising local ones.
The flow of tax resources to the social sector could be augmented more readily if the new tax revenue thus generated, or at least part of it, were directly earmarked for specific health and education activities (for which there are guarantees that tax money is spent efficiently), or if these taxes were raised directly by district and provincial authorities, who are usually entrusted with responsibility for social services at the local level.
-Mobilising additional resources from households and communities.
In sub-Saharan Africa, as in most other developing regions, households have long borne a substantial share of the national expenditure on health, education, water supply and so on by contributing resources (in kind, cash and time) for the construction of health and education facilities, covering direct and indirect costs (transport uniforms, fees, drugs etc.) associated with the provision of public services and making payments to private providers. Despite these already considerable contributions, user charges have been introduced or raised on a large scale in recent years in many countries to alleviate the burden on public expenditure imposed by the economic crisis.
However, while the small but significant contribution of user charges to health and education budgets should be acknowledged, the negative effects of the indiscriminate application of these charges should also be emphasised. Indeed, in many African countries the need for health care, education and other social services rarely coincides with the ability to pay. The implementation of user charges can have adverse effects in three ways. First, it may lead to a contraction in the demand for services. Second, in the health sector, it tends to discourage the use of preventive services for which potential patients may not see an immediate relevance (such as ante natal care and immunisation). Third, it may adversely affect a household's ability to meet other basic needs, such as the purchase of food, particularly if fees are charged simultaneously for health, education and other services and if the household's income declines. In addition to these problems, there is little evidence that the revenue from user charges is actually reinvested to improve the quality or expand the coverage of local services, as those who promote user charges argue. Despite recent attempts at keeping a share of the user fees at the local level (e.g. at the collecting facilities), in most cases revenue merely flows to the public treasury. Moreover, user charges usually generate a relatively small proportion of the total operating cost of the health care sector, with gross yields at around 5%. If the costs of fee collection are included, the yields are lower and, in some cases, negative.
However, health care, education and the provision of water include different types of services, some clearly geared to the needs of the poor and others catering more for middle and upper-income groups. While user charges are not well suited to primary education, disease control programmes, basic curative services and communal water supply, the same cannot be said of university education and other 'income elastic' services. For the latter, cost recovery measures would be advisable, although subsidised access for the deserving poor must be assured. For the intermediate category, which includes most curative health services and secondary education, selective cost-recovery measures might be desirable, with low income individuals exempted or charged only a nominal fee.
While direct user fees (levied on patients at the moment of their treatment) are problematic from several perspectives, there are other indirect ways to mobilise resources from communities (generally before episodes of illness), such as various kinds of prepayment schemes, health insurance, lotteries, mutual funds and the sale of produce from community fields, in addition to their contributions in kind. These schemes have two main features which are attractive for health-care: they shift the moment of payment, so that individuals are not burdened with relatively more significant expenditure at the time of illness, and they spread the burden of costs (e.g. for drugs) over a larger group.
-Increasing the volume of international aid.
There has been a considerable shift in official development assistance (ODA) in favour of Africa over the past two decades. Africa's share in total ODA rose from 19.4% in 1975/6 to 25.1% in 1980/1, and to 34.2% in 1988/9. However, the share assigned to human resource development has dropped, while- debt-service obligations have often absorbed a growing share of ODA. Greater flows are therefore needed. In the late 1980s, the World Bank estimated that additional annual aid of about $1 billion was required during the 1990s to halt social retrogression and ensure reasonable progress. But this flow of aid has not materialised on any appreciable scale. Indeed the trend in the 1990s has been towards an absolute decline in aid flows. The simplest and the most cost-effective way to effect such aid transfer would be through debt relief, although some increases in ODA are needed. Improvement in the quality of aid, including substantial shifts to programme aid, greater participation in the financing of recurrent costs and more focus on primary health care and education and on rural water supply are also required.
What role for NGOs and private providers?
While private providers, including church missions, have always been important in Africa, much of the market oriented literature tends to be very optimistic about the scope for expanding private services in order to replace government ones. Although a multiplicity of providers is desirable (and frequently unavoidable), there are several reasons why such optimism should be tempered. First, private sector services in Africa are typically concentrated in urban areas, and because of their cost, cater for upper-income groups. Although non-governmental providers (especially missions) are often located in rural areas, and they generally provide valuable services, they are seldom able to guarantee extensive coverage and in some cases may duplicate government services. Second, private providers are not without costs to governments; they often receive subsidies or preferential treatment in the allocation of foreign exchange and typically offer higher salaries and better working conditions which draw manpower away from the public sector. In Zambia, for instance, a teacher in a primary school run by the Consolidated Copper Mines can earn more than a lecturer at the University of Zambia. In countries with extremely limited numbers of doctors, certified nurses, qualified teachers and so on, greater privatisation would exacerbate the 'brain drain' from the public to the private sector and the undersupply of 'quasi public goods' for the majority, leading to harmful social differentiation. Third, quality is not necessarily an important incentive in the private sector in developing countries. The view that private institutions in health care and education are more efficient tends to be based largely on analyses in developed countries. Fourth, the growing pressure for pluralism in social service provision often gives scant attention to the problems of central coordination and planning and the development of an adequate 'regulatory framework' for private sector activities. While playing an important complementary role, the private sector and, to a lesser extent, the NGO sector, are thus affected by important objective limitations. Indeed, ironically, their proper functioning and social utility depends crucially on the existence of a stronger, not weaker, state able to regulate, coordinate and ensure that basic social services are provided - possibly through a multitude of public, NGO and private providers-to all citizens of a nation. G.A.C
by Franklyn Lisk
The development experience of much of sub-Saharan Africa in past decades provides ample illustration of the importance of capacity building in the development process. The importance is related to the ability to manage economic and social processes, including the analysis and formulation of policy options, for attaining development objectives such as employment generation and poverty reduction. The consequences of failures in domestic economic management, compounded by the effects of a prolonged economic crisis in the region have, inter alla, contributed to high and rising levels of open unemployment and underemployment, declining per Capita incomes and real wages, and an increase in the incidence and intensity of poverty in a number of African countries. The persistence of these adverse consequences, which represent a serious threat to economic growth and sustainable development, are somehow linked-either as a cause or an effect -to weaknesses and instability in the institutional framework for management and public administration.
The problem of weak institutional and general capacity for management in Africa today can be traced to the colonial legacy. This left many countries in the region, at the time of independence, with insufficient institutional and human capacity to cope with the transition from colony to independent sovereign state, particularly with respect to the responsibility for economic management. More specifically, this related to the unequal and disadvantageous manner of Africa's incorporation into the international economic system in the late 1950s and the early 1960s. Lack of technological know-how, inadequate infrastructure and limited investment resources compounded the immediate post-independence problem of weak institutional capacity, and left many African countries highly vulnerable to external shocks.
It was extremely difficult for the majority of African countries to break out of the old 'protected' colonial production and trade systems and rapidly to diversify their economies in line with the requirements of participating effectively in a competitive world economy. Since independence, institutional and human capacity for management in many African countries has not grown fast enough to keep up with the requirements of changing socioeconomic circumstances at the national level and to face the challenge of increasing globalisation. Critical skill shortages in public administration and private sector management in Africa can hardly be addressed in the context of the current economic crisis. The consequences of this crisis can be seen, for example, in underfunded and poorly equipped training and management development institutions, and in low-paid and demoralised civil services. At the same time, the 'brain drain' from the continent, partly as a consequence of poor pay and career prospects, has further undermined capacity in Africa. The interaction of foreign donors and African governments has not always served the interest of capacity building. It has been admitted, even by the World Bank that 'aid has done much less than one might have hoped to reduce poverty (in Africa)'. There is now more or less a consensus in the international donor community that expatriate technical assistance does not and cannot solve all kinds of development problems in the region. Far from solving problems, the imposition of foreign technical assistance has, in some cases, become a destructive force which undermines the development of domestic capacity that is critical to solving local development problems. Where donor assistance is inappropriate in terms of project concept and design, or there is a mismatch between design and domestic implementation and management capacity, technical assistance could end up becoming part of the problem rather than the solution.
Before examining the requirements for institutional capacity building in developing countries, and particularly African countries, it is necessary to clarify salient issues pertaining to the concept. Broadly speaking, capacity building in a development context refers to a comprehensive process which includes the ability to identify constraints and to plan and manage development. The process usually involves the development of human resources and institutions, and a supportive policy environment. Ideally, it aims at improving on existing capabilities and resources and using them efficiently to achieve sustainable economic and social development.
Narrowing the concept to focus on institution-building, the emphasis will be on the development of particular institutions, their human and material resources, their organisational management and their administrative capacities. More specifically, the aim of institutional capacity building is to improve significantly the outputs and impacts of institutions concerned with economic management, public administration (including project management), enterprise development and so on-in both the public and private sectors.
It is obvious that relevant development-oriented institutions within an economy can exert a decisive influence on economic growth and employment prospects, and indeed on the attainment of sustainable economic and social development. From a macro standpoint,planning and similar development institutions are required for better management of the economy including, more crucially, the ability to mobilise, allocate and utilise human and material resources in an efficient and productive manner. At the micro level, human and institutional capacity is critical to sound project management and public administration.
The general situation in Africa today suggests that capacity building is required in relation to the following priority areas:
- good governance, to ensure stability;
-economic management, to maximise resource mobilisation and promote sustainable development;
- human resource development, to support employment creation and income generation, and reduce poverty;
- science and technology, to increase the efficiency of the population and facilitate infrastructural development;
-enterprise development, to enhance the critical role of the private sector in overall development.
The degree of emphasis given to each of the above in a given context would vary according to the level and complexity of existing human and institutional capacities, the economic and financial means to support capacity, the relative roles of the public and private sectors, and the degree of involvement of civil society in the decision-making process.
The policy context for institutional capacity building should be multi-sectoral and flexible, but coherent in relation to the desired objectives of development. This is to ensure that the process of capacity building is adaptable to changing circumstances-an issue that is particularly relevant in the context of countries undertaking structural adjustment and economic reform programmes when there is a need effectively to nurture and utilise local skills and to mobilise investment resources efficiently.
In the light of the development challenge facing African countries, the process of capacity building in the region requires, above all, appropriate and adequate human and institutional capabilities to plan and manage economic and social development processes. These capabilities should include the means of assessing the achievements and impact of capacity building on poverty reduction, employment creation, etc. Existing public sector institutions for development planning and management could provide the operational framework for national capacity building, but the process should also include the participation of diverse social forces, the private sector and non-governmental institutions.
Regarding the role of external donors and technical assistance agencies, the approach should be based on the concept of 'partners in development', which implies consultation and dialogue between donor and recipient on all aspects of project planning, design and implementation- with project 'ownership' resting with national authorities. Technical assistance from foreign donors should therefore go mainly towards developing the necessary domestic capacity, rather than contributing to the undermining of existing or potential capacity. Furthermore, assistance provided by external donors should be directed towards the building of capacity for promoting regional economic cooperation and integration through support for the development of viable African regional and sub-regional development organisations.
The issue of domestic capacity building in Africa has more recently been the focus of attention by the international community as a whole. Indeed, the former World Bank vice-president for Africa, Edward Jaycox, has described 'capacity building' es the 'missing link in African development' which is 'critical to the development effort (of the region) and the chances of success'. UN agencies, spearheaded by the UNDP, have been active in promoting capacity building as a major requirement for attaining sustainable development.
In 1991, the UNDP Governing Council took a decision which resulted in the development of guidelines covering assistance to governments in the formulation and implementation of national capacity building strategies relating to all stages of the project cycle in the developing countries. The decision coincided with the introduction of the 'programme approach' by the UNDP which emphasised the centrality of national development programmes as the hub for the integration of UN technical assistance activities with national efforts. Emphasis on the use of national skills in the development process was consolidated within the general operational framework for 'national execution', which implied that overall responsibility for management of UN operational activities and accountability remained with the government and other national institutions and beneficiaries who 'owned' these activities. Under these new arrangements, a high priority was thus placed on the strengthening and sustaining of development management and administrative capacities on a long-term basis as an integral part of UNDP technical assistance.
The World Bank's interest in capacity building in Africa has been more closely linked to the need for administrative and technical capacity at the national level to carry out policy analysis and economic management in the context of on-going structural adjustment and economic reform programmes. In a trailblazing address to the African American Institute Conference in 1993, Mr Jaycox came out strongly in favour of a new approach to lending to African countries which gave top priority to the development of critical human and institutional capacity. He admitted that the Bank's $4 billion a year lending programme in sub-Saharan Africa had not had the desired impact on development in the region because not enough attention had been paid to national capacity in the past. He went on to criticise the international donor community and financial institutions, including the World Bank itself, for designing and carrying out technical assistance activities which not only fail to solve problems but end up undermining the development of capacity in Africa. Mr Jaycox accordingly pledged to give direct support to capacity building in the Bank's lending programmes, mainly through human resource development and the creation of a 'demand for professionalism in Africa.'
The UNDP, the African Development Bank and the World Bank, collaborated in the early 1990s to set up the 'African Capacity Building Foundation' (ACBF), based in Harare, Zimbabwe, with initial seed money of about $30 million and another $70 million attracted from bilateral donors and African governments themselves. The fund is to be used by the Foundation to support capacity building in Africa through training and institution building. Particular attention will be paid to the rehabilitation and strengthening of selected research and training institutions to meet the challenge of indigenous capacity building. Another initiative set up with foreign donors and African support, the Africa Research Consortium in Nairobi, is a good example of collaboration at regional level that is contributing to capacity building in the critical area of economic policy analysis and management. Similarly, the African Development Bank helped establish the African Business Round table which promotes entrepreneurship and enterprise development based on African ownership and control.
Role of the ILO
For well over three decades the ILO, as part of its technical cooperation programme in Africa, has been involved in a wide range of management development, productivity and institution building initiatives at both national and regional levels. This is consistent with the need to strengthen African training institutions to play a crucial role in providing development managers with the necessary skills to analyse and formulate policy options and manage public and private enterprises efficiently.
One of the most successful initiatives undertaken by the ILO, in collaboration with the UNDP and the Economic Development Institute (EDI) of the World Bank, is the UNEDIL programme for strengthening management training in Africa. Since its inception in 1987, the UNEDIL programme has proven to be a worthwhile initiative in institutional capacity building in the management field. Support for the programme has also come from national and regional management development institutes (MDIs) in Africa, regional and sub-regional organisations such as SADC and the Commonwealth Secretariat, and major bilateral donors such as USAID, CIDA, NORAD, the Netherlands and France.
Apart from aiming at strengthening institutional capacity, the UNEDIL programme has been instrumental in fostering networking among African development institutes and promoting professional contacts and the exchange of experience. One outcome of the programme has been the revival of three subregional MDI associations which enjoy the direct support of UNEDIL and serve as focal points for UNEDIL's subregional networking arrangements.
Networking on a subregional basis has made it possible to
optimise the use of scarce resources and talents, and this has helped to
increase managerial capacity in the region as a whole. Collaboration has also
permitted an exchange of experience among African institutions, and has brought
together expertise both from within Africa and from outside to assist in the
development of managerial capacity across the continent. This fits in with the
goals of technical cooperation in general, and of South-South cooperation in
Increasing demands and diminishing resources in higher education
by Professor Dumitru Chitoran
As we approach the end of the millennium, higher education world-wide finds itself in a paradoxical situation. On the one hand, it is witnessing unprecedented growth. Enrolments are on the increase and so are the expectations placed on it by society. The correlation between investment in higher education and research, and the level of social, economic and cultural development of nations is well-established and is gaining increasing ground at a time when all development has become knowledge-intensive. On the other hand, higher education is in a state of crisis in practically all countries of the world, under the pressure of serious financial constraints. It has to compete for public funds with many other sectors and very often it is among the first to undergo severe cuts. These cuts have reached a dramatic threshold in the developing countries. As a result, the gap between the developing and the developed countries with regard to higher learning and research is wider than ever and it continues to grow.
Inter-university cooperation has emerged as a major tool for the support of higher education in the developing countries and as a flexible mechanism for the rapid transfer and sharing of knowledge, channelled via university links and exchanges. As emphasised in the Policy Paper for Change and Development in Higher Education issued by UNESCO in 1995, 'the most pressing need for international cooperation in higher education is to reverse the process of decline of institutions in the developing countries, particularly in the least developed.' The internationalisation of higher education has advanced steadily, reinforced by current processes of economic and political integration and facilitated by the steady advances in information and communication technologies. But, as indicated in the UNESCO World Education Report (1993), it is increasingly subject to the competitive laws of the market. Universities have been urged to develop an entrepreneurial, commercial attitude and to regard international cooperation mainly as a source of additional income. Fees for foreign students have risen considerably in many countries. As a result, academic mobility is becoming more North-North and less South-North or South-South. The benefits of study abroad, of exchanges, networking and access to data are recognised, but the costs involved render them increasingly a privilege, restricted to those who can afford it.
An innovative programme
UNESCO's response to these trends was the UNITWIN/UNESCO Chairs Programme, launched in 1991. While serving as an instrument to foster overall inter-university cooperation, it was aimed at giving a clear direction and goal, namely to support higher education in the developing countries. It was meant to mark a return to the spirit of international academic solidarity, through twinning, networking and other linking arrangements among universities. The programme was also designed as an innovative form for the rapid transfer of knowledge, and for institutional development in higher education, including the establishment of transnational centres for advanced studies and research, as a means of redressing the widening knowledge gap between industrially developed and developing countries. One other aim of the Programme was to alleviate the negative effects of the brain drain.
The UNITWIN/UNESCO Chairs Programme has seen steady and dynamic development from the very beginning, and has emerged as the major thrust of UNESCO's action in the field of higher education. The favoured institutional framework for carrying out activities is a UNESCO Chair. The programme's activities are extremely diverse. They include the appointment of visiting professors, provision of scholarships and fellowships, facilitating of staff and student exchanges and undertaking of joint research. The 'chairs' are typical of basic units of research and training, with a strong international dimension, since either the chairholder, or some of the professors or researchers associated with its programme come from abroad. Other projects involve complex inter university networks, varying in size from three to more than 50 institutions. Within networks, certain institutions serve as focal points, responsible for initiating activities and securing broad participation in their execution. Also included are cooperation programmes established by UNESCO with major university associations and networks in order to carry out UNITWIN-related activities.
At present, there are 163 established UNESCO Chairs (a further 84 are under consideration) and 34 largescale networks (18 more are being developed). A total of over 750 teachers, researchers and other support staff are involved in their activities. It is estimated that 350 courses (mainly at the graduate level), attended by more than 7500 students, were organised by the established UNESCO Chairs during the 1992-1996 period. Also, 120 seminars, training workshops, symposia and colloquia were staged over the same period, attended by more than 6000 participants. Some 580 academics from developing countries spent short periods of time at partner universities in the developed countries to upgrade their training. In addition, 355 scholarships have been granted to students and young academics from developing nations within the framework of the Programme. Research has been encouraged through 240 projects (mainly joint ones) resulting, according to progress reports received so far, in the publication of 55 volumes, some 100 published articles and over 150 monographs and progress reports.
The ACPs in the programme
A large number of these projects (UNESCO Chairs and networks) concern ACP countries. Africa has been given top priority. Over 30 of the established Chairs are located there and 18 more are under consideration for subSaharan Africa, in order to reinforce the contribution of the programme to the development of higher education in this region. In addition, certain projects located at institutions in Europe and North America carry on activities which are designed to support African universities. A few examples illustrate this. Starting from its bilateral links with several African universities, the University of Utrecht proposed developing these into a broader, multilateral project under the umbrella of UNITWIN. For this purpose, it joined forces with three other European institutions: the University of Lund in Sweden, the Ruhr University in Bochum, Germany and the University of Porto in Portugal. The result was the establishment of the Utrecht/Southern Africa/UNITWIN (USU) network. It includes, at its southern pole, the universities of Harare, Maputo, Namibia, and Western Cape, where UNESCO Chairs have been established in different fields. The aim is to develop each of them into (sub)regional centres of advanced study and research. This is well under way in the case of the UNESCO Chair in Mathematics and Science Education at Western Cape University in South Africa. A first step was to link its activities to those of the MESA (Mathematics Education in South Africa) project, a cooperation project between the Utrecht-Freundenthal Institute for Mathematics Education and the University of the Western Cape. A school for Science and Maths Education is to be established at the University of Western Cape.
Another large scale project is the Network of African Teacher Training Institutions, built around a UNESCO Chair at the Ecole Normale Superieure in Dakar. This is designed to serve as a regional centre for postgraduate training and research in the field of education. After several years preparation, activities were launched in 1995. The strength of networking is illustrated by a number of other linking arrangements in support of African higher education institutions. These include the network initiated by the NATURA Group of European universities in the field of agriculture, the ORBICOM Network in the field of Communication, which is a global network but pays particular attention to the needs of African universities, and the UNESCO/John Hopkins University Networking and Partnership in Adolescent Youth Health and Development. The last-mentioned focuses on HlV/AIDS-related research, and includes institutions such as Addis Ababa and Makerere Universities.
The agreement signed by UNESCO with the Association of African Universities (AAU) within the framework of UNITWIN provides for support of the latter's staff development and management programme. A UNESCO Chair in Educational Management and Administration is to be established. It will function on a rotating basis at several universities in South Africa, Botswana and Malawi. There are also a number of 'tailor-made' chairs which respond to more specific needs of institutions, notably to develop training and research capabilities in areas such as human rights, democray and peace (at the Universities of Namibia, Addis Ababa and Fianarantsoa in Madagascar), or in the field of Water Resources and Water Culture (at the Universities of Malawi and Omdurman in Sudan). In the latter field, an interesting example is the UNESCO Chair established at the University of Nice, which, although located in France, carries out its activities in Mauritania and has produced the most comprehensive study so far on water resource management in that country.
The programme has also made a good start in the Pacific and the Caribbean, even if achievements there are on a more modest scale. There are already 22 established chairs with 14 more under consideration. They cover a wide spectrum of priority fields, including the sustainable use of rain forest resources at the University of Guyana, higher education management and information technology at the University of Havana in Cuba, educational sciences in Fiji, and the use of drugs in Chulalongkorn University in Thailand.
UNESCO works closely with the University of the South Pacific and the University of the West Indies, with which it has established four UNESCO Chairs. Moreover, it has signed a cooperation agreement, in the framework of UNITWIN, with the Commonwealth Secretariat and the Association of Commonwealth Universities for activities in both regions. There is great potential for the further development of the Chairs programme in the Pacific and Caribbean, given the existence of the two regional universities mentioned above and the strong interest of universities in a number of developed countries (such as Australia, Canada, Japan and Spain) in supporting the programme. It appears to be particularly well suited for the systems of higher education in the two regions.
The cost of international cooperation in higher education has risen steadily and this is currently one of the major obstacles preventing the full use of the potential of academic links. New information and communication technologies help reduce costs, but universities in the least-developed countries would first need considerable investment in order to procure and maintain the necessary equipment. That is why UNESCO has based the Chairs programme on funding principles aimed at lowering costs and sharing them in a genuine spirit of academic solidarity.
At the outset, UNESCO made it very clear that, since it was not a funding agency, it could not, by itself, assume the financial burden of such an ambitious programme, involving several hundred institutions and thousands of university teachers, researchers and students. However, it decided to make a commitment by providing some initial funds. Rough estimates indicate that, over the 1992-1995 period, UNESCO has contributed some $2.5 million (from its Regular and Participation Programmes, Fellowship Bank and Funds-in-Trust) to the UNITWIN/UNESCO Chairs Programme. At the same time, it has pressed for increased international development aid for higher education, particularly from the developed countries, and from international organisations, including the UN specialised agencies. A strong case is made for the benefit of pooling resources and for involving directly the higher education institutions themselves
UNITWIN-based projects, including UNESCO Chairs, are usually initiated through the direct contributions of UNESCO (the range is generally between $15 000 and $25 000 per individual project). This is meant to help prepare and launch projects and to secure further funding from other sources. The institutions themselves must include allocations for the respective projects in their own budgets and request their appropriate national authorities to make contributions. This applies equally to universities in the developing countries, however poor their resources may be. It serves to indicate that the project in question is indeed seen as a priority by them and by their national authorities.
Experience of the UNITWIN funding formula so far gives cause for cautious optimism. Many projects have been able to secure funds by having recourse to the various sources mentioned above. Thus, the Utrecht/ Southern Africa/UNITWIN Project received a first UNESCO allocation of $50 000 in 1993, in order to launch its activities. The fact that it concerned a large-scale project (a network of eight universities, with four chairs established at four African universities and one at the University of Utrecht) explains the larger UNESCO allocation. This was followed by a second allocation of $70 000 in 1994 for the actual implementation of activities in Africa. The UNESCO seed money led to additional funding-$600 000 annually, for the 1992-1995 period, from various Dutch donors (mainly the Ministry of Development Cooperation, through NUFFIC) and from the European Union, and $450 000 from the University of Utrecht budget, including the total cost for the functioning of the UNESCO Chair on African Studies established at that university. The other three European universities participating in the network (Bochum, Lund and Porto) have also made contributions and are now looking for donor funding in their countries. It is important to mention that the four African universities belonging to the network have also allocated funds from their own budgets to the UNITWIN projects and are actively seeking additional resources from aid and development programmes established for their countries by various donor agencies.
It can be fairly argued that in terms of cost-effectiveness,
efficiency and the ability to generate funding from various sources, UNITWIN
compares favourably with existing cooperation schemes in higher education and
research. But it is still too early to conclude that the Chairs Programme can
continue and develop further on the basis of the present funding arrangements.
The needs are arguably too big for the institutions and individuals involved,
who may find themselves in a perpetual search for funds. An evaluation of the
programme is under way and this will be submitted to the Member States for their
decision. UNESCO is hoping that its efforts to revive academic solidarity, and
its campaign in favour of higher education in the developing countries will
receive the support of the international community. More than ever before, these
countries need to develop their capacity for advanced training and research in
order to achieve self sustainable development. The academic community has
already indicated its willingness to join forces with UNESCO in this
When a highly qualified professional chooses to leave his own country for another, he does so for one or several legitimate political or economic reasons: peace and security for himself and his family, job satisfaction, better pay and conditions. a higher standard of living, etc. Throughout history, countries and centres of academic excellence which offer these attractions have received the largest numbers of professional migrants and these have, in turn, made substantial contributions, not only to the economic growth of their host countries, but also to the scientific and technological advancement of humanity. The wave of German scientists who moved to the United States after the Second World war, and their discoveries and inventions, come readily to mind. On a global level, therefore, the free movement and interaction of highly skilled people is a positive thing. But the costs to the home countries of losing their professionals is incalculable-in terms of both development opportunities and loss of investment.
Whereas Western Europe was the main loser, especially to the United States, up until the 1960s, the developing countries have emerged in recent years as the biggest suppliers of qualified professionals to the industrialised world as a whole. Today there are more than a million and a half skilled expatriates from the developing countries settled in Western Europe, the USA, Japan and Canada. The USA's educational system and its research institutions are heavily dependent on them. These migrant professionals contribute in no small way to increasing the disparities between the world's rich and poor nations. And it is the developing countries that need them most.
Africa, which has serious shortages of manpower, has been worst hit. It is said to have lost 60 000 professionals (doctors, university lecturers, engineers, surveyors, etc) between 1985 and 1990 and to have been losing an average of 20 000 annually ever since.
There are more than 21 000 Nigerian doctors practising in the United States alone. Meanwhile, Nigeria's own health system suffers a cruel lack of medical practitioners. 60% of all Ghanaian doctors trained locally in the 1980s have left the country, according to the UNDP's 1992 Human Development Report, while, in Sudan, 17% of doctors and dentists, 20% of university lecturers, 30% of engineers and 45% of surveyors have gone to work abroad.
Although it is difficult to calculate the cost of an expatriate professional in terms of the nutrition, health care and education provided by households and the State, it is clear developing countries are losing colossal amounts of investment annually to the developed countries.
The US Congressional Research Service, for example, computed in 197172 that the USA gained $20 000 annually on each skilled migrant from the developing countries. If this rather conservative amount is extrapolated for Africa, then the continent lost more than $1.2 billion of investment between 1985 and 1990 on the 60 000 or so African professionals who emigrated during that period. Much closer perhaps to the truth today would be the estimate made by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), using 1979 prices, which put a cash value of $184 000 on each African professional migrant (and this only for those between the ages of 25 and 35).
On the other hand, expatriate remittances, particularly from skilled workers who earn higher salaries than the average migrant, constitute an important source of funds for development in their home countries. Throughout Africa, households are being maintained by remittances from relatives working abroad. Also, fine buildings are being put up and small-scale projects are financed in villages and cities across the continent with funds sent from overseas. But taken together, these will never be large enough to compensate Africa for the loss of investment suffered as a result of the 'brain drain'.
Serious flaw in international cooperation
The migration of highly qualified professionals from the developing countries is an extremely complex problem which presents the international community with a major dilemma. First, the 'brain drain' cannot be stopped by force nor can it be legislated against. It is linked to fundamental human rights- the right of individuals to move from one country to another, although the exercise of that right is governed by the immigration policies of individual countries. Second, it is fundamentally a national problem which can only be resolved at the national level by providing enough incentives for qualified nationals to remain at home. Third, some industrialised countries like the USA and Canada, have historically operated liberal immigration policies. Even European states, whose immigration policies tend to be more restrictive, have a good number of third world professionals, but there are over a million in the USA and Canada. It is arguable whether, under the circumstances, the liberalisation of the international labour market under the World Trade Organisation, as is being suggested (even by some developing countries), will actually be in Africa's interests.
The reasons for Africa's brain drain problem are legion and easily identifiable, being both structural and economic. The most often cited cause is the continent's school curricula which many see as still largely modelled on the systems of the former colonial masters. This, it is argued, has led to the production of graduates in disciplines that have little or no relevance to the socio-cultural and economic milieux of the continent. This is a highly debatable assertion, given the large numbers of the technical assistants currently working in Africa who are products of the educational systems of the former colonial powers-at least some of whom are having a positive impact on the continent's development. This, however, must not distract from the fact that African higher schools systems are illequipped to produce the right skills for Africa's development needs. Because of shortages of both science equipment and teachers, the system instructs the vast majority of pupils in arts rather than in science and technology-and it is the latter which hold the key to economic growth and development. Thus, there is overproduction of graduates in areas where there are few employment opportunities. This results in high levels of migration, even, paradoxically among the few trained scientists because of the absence of an environment conducive to full professional expression and satisfaction. It is not uncommon for things as simple as electricity and water supply to provide reasons for emigration. Examples abound of frustrated African scientists who have had their experimental work of several years destroyed overnight through power failures.
Powerful factors in the brain drain include Africa's poor rates of economic growth over the past 30 years (worsened by structural adjustment measures which have resulted in dramatic falls in living standards) and political instability (disturbances in Nigeria and Zaire, civil war in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Somalia etc). Thousands of qualified professionals have been forced unwillingly into exile, and the majority of those left behind, in these times of serious economic crisis, are engaged in unskilled pursuits-in petty trading and taxi driving-far removed from their professional training. The loss of investment associated with this situation cannot be underestimated.
Sub-Saharan Africa is in the paradoxical situation today of
having large numbers of graduates in various disciplines -from medicine and
engineering to architecture and accountancy-who have either emigrated or are
simply unemployed, while it hosts a large army of foreign technical assistants.
Indeed, Africa receives more advice per capita than any other continent. In
1988, there were more than 80 000 technical assistants, and today the figure is
well over 100 000. These experts are believed to cost donors a total of $4bn
annually to maintain, a figure which represents nearly 35% of Africa's total
official development aid. This situation reveals a serious flaw in the operation
of international development cooperation. Would it not be more efficient and
cost effective to employ qualified African expatriates in the place of many of
these foreign technical experts. The former, after all, have both linguistic and
cultural links with the continent. The United Nations Development Programme
(UNDP) has a programme in this area which points to a possible way forward. The
article on that programme, TOKTEN,
On the scale of the brain drain problem facing the developing countries, the UNDP's Transfer of Knowledge Through Expatriate Nationals (TOKTEN) project may not amount to much, but it has proved, in its 19 years of existence, to be a cost-effective way of getting highly qualified expatriates from the developing countries to contribute to the development of their countries of origin.
It all started in Turkey in 1977 by pure accident. A Turkish mineral expert in Alberta, Canada, was asked by a compatriot if he would be kind enough to come over to Turkey and explain his innovative coal cleaning process to the staff and students of his old university in Ankara-the Middle East Technical University. He expressed his interest in the project. Soon afterwards he was contacted by the UNDP which offered to fund part of his trip to Ankara. The expert spent one month in Turkey giving a series of seminars, not only at the Middle East Technical University, but also at the Istanbul and Dokuz Eylul Universities. During these lectures, he made recommendations on resolving Turkey's specific coal utilisation problems. His impact was immense and such that the UNDP was inspired to set up the TOKTEN project along similar lines to help developing countries gain from the knowledge of their expatriate professionals.
The system is simple. Member States of the United Nations can apply to join the project. The latter is administered in each country by a National Working Commitee (NWC) which is made up of representatives from the government, local organisations, the private sector and the UNDP. Institutions of that country (government ministries and agencies, private and public sector enterprises, universities, research and development institutions, hospitals, etc) can apply for assistance in a variety of areas.
Applications are processed by the NWC and recruitment of experts is usually in one or more of the following ways:
- through consultants with lists of experts recognised by the Government as having extensive contacts within their expatriate communities;
- through embassies and missions, alumni associations and research institutions;
- through prominent members of the country's expatriate community who identify and alert other high level expatriates of the opportunities to return home and serve their countries.
When the Working Committee chooses a consultant, an offer of assignment is made. The beneficiary organisation and the consultant will then determine the timing of the mission and inform the UNDP.
TOKTEN assignments last between one and three months depending on the ability of the consultant and the needs of the beneficiary'. They are not meant to be highly remunerative. Consultants are only entitled to round trip economy fare tickets (by the most direct route) and a daily subsistence allowance at the prevailing UN rate. The costs are paid out of the beneficiary country's 'Indicative Planning Figure'(IPF) which is the amount of assistance the UNDP makes available to a developing country over a five-year programming cycle. Health insurance cover and accommodation is not provided. Usually these are the responsibilities of the beneficiary government or organisation. The salaries of the consultants during their absence are paid by their affiliated employers whose agreement is often necessary for the projects to go ahead.
TOKTEN consultants are thus not motivated by money but by a genuine desire (with a modicum of patriotism) to contribute to the development of their countries of origin to which they retain strong cultural and linguistic ties. And their impact on the ground is usually immediate and measurable. Pressures are not put on volunteers to return permanently to their countries, although many have chosen to do so since the programme began in 1977.
The system is not only low-cost and cost-effective. It covers a great variety of specialised fields and enables programmes to be implemented with speed.
Conditions for success
A UNDP assessment of the programme in 1987, ten years after it began, concluded that regular monitoring of its operation had enabled information garnered to be applied to increase its effectiveness. It had been found, for example, that short-term expatriate consultancies were especially beneficial when the problem tackled was specific and the consultant selected was of international standing, when both the requesting organisation and the expatriate were well prepared in advance, and when the initial mission was followed up by a series of measures, often including a return visit.
By 1992, 35 countries were participating in the programme and over 3800 consultancies had been run. Since then, the number of countries has increased dramatically to 51 and con
sultancies to 5000. In 1994 and 1995 alone, 28 countries reported over 700 consultancies.
It has also become clear that, whereas the main recipient institutions have been government agencies, science and technology research institutions, universities and organisations, the private sector is increasingly showing interest in the programme. The number of female specialists is also increasing: in 1991, 40 consultants were women and last year this figure rose to over 100.
So far, the ACP countries participating in the programme are; Benin, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Dominica, Ethiopia, Fiji, Guinea, Guyana, Haiti, Liberia, Nigeria, Sao Tome & Principe, Sierra Leone, St Lucia, Trinidad & Tobago and Uganda.
Success stories include a highly skilled Guyanese medical practitioner in the United States who returned home after 17 years to assume the post of minister of health. He had been sent to oversee the introduction of certain aspects of health care such as preventive medicine (immunisation, general child care and nutrition), treatment of trauma (victims of accidents and violence etc) and the establishment and management of the physical facilities for emergency patients. During his stint, his recommendation on the upgrading of the emergency room facilities was rapidly implemented and this contributed significantly to improving patient care. Another story involved a Guinean banker who, after a consultancy stint in Guinea, abandoned a lucrative job in France to return home permanently to work at the Central Bank of Guinea, helping to set up a new loan system for commercial imprt and export businesses. Guinea, in fact, has been one of the greatest beneficiaries of the TOKTEN programme with numerous consultancies involving the University of Conakry, covering more than 20 disciplines.
For very small sums the programme is ensuring that developing
countries which have invested enormously in the education of their expatriate
nationals have a return, at least, in the form of the knowledge they
The role of the Commonwealth in the economic and social progress of its member states is neither widely known nor widely publicised. Yet for over 25 years, the Commonwealth Fund for Technical Cooperation (CFTC) has made significant contributions to the efforts of its developing member countries to accelerate the pace of their economic development.
The recognition by the Commonwealth that people are its greatest resource forms the basis of its approach to development assistance-providing, in the short term, specialist technical skills which are either not available or are in short supply to governments to enable them to fill key positions in areas as diverse as export and industrial promotion, high-level economic and legal services etc, and in the longer term, a wide range of training programmes in areas that are crucial for economic development.
The Commonwealth Fund for Technical Cooperation is funded by voluntary financial contributions from member governments which, as has just been mentioned, can also draw on it according to their needs and priorities. As a pioneer of technical cooperation between developing countries, the Fund recruits its experts from these countries and encourages South/South cooperation. It is thus not uncommon to see West Africans serving, on short-term contracts, as legal officers in remote Pacifc island states or Sri Lankans or Indians advising on new agricultural techniques in Africa. The Fund is administered by four separate divisions within the Commonwealth Secretariat: the management and training division; the general technical assistance division; the export and industrial development division, and the economic and legal advisory services division. In 1994-95 the CFTC's financial resources stood at around f23.6 million (ECU 30m).
Human resource development
Nearly one-third of the CFTC's budget is spent on human resource development, helping enhance people's skills through a mix of training workshops, study visits and individual attachments.
Some 4000 training fellowships were awarded in 1993-95 to enhance technical skills. These were given to middle and senior professional, technical and administrative managers to study at some of the Commonwealth's best institutions or to take up work attachments (63% of training takes place in less-developed countries).
The Fund also enables universities and other institutions to become centres of excellence and upgrade the tuition they offer by appointing academic and technical specialists. In 1993-95, for example, it helped five universities in Africa and the Caribbean to run applied Masters courses through collaboration with other Commonwealth universities.
As the CFTC is usually able to meet only 60% of the requests it receives for specialised training, its programmes are held on a regional and pan-Commonwealth basis to maximise impact, especially in topics such as administrative reform, financial management and strategic planning.
The Fund's training priorities include:
- first and foremost, identifying needs (consultants are sent to countries to examine their development plans and help them to prioritise training needs).
- providing education and training in key areas that reflect CFTC concerns such as well-managed economic and financial reform by government, sustainable development, participation of women and application of technology.
- ensuring an integrated package of consultancy, advice and training to help managers in government, and public and private sector enterprises to coordinate and manage reforms and restructuring.
- organising policy workshops and seminars that bring together senior government officials, executives and academics from Commonwealth countries to pool experiences, learn examples of best practice, discuss problems and reflect on emerging issues.
- giving support to institutions to offer new and specialised education and training programmes.
- providing technical and vocational training under the Commonwealth Industrial Training and Experience Programme (between 1993 and 1995, workshops were held in hospital equipment repairs, railway repairs and maintenance and computer-assisted manufacturing).
- providing training in information systems, new technologies and environmental issues (governments are helped to develop management information systems and apply information technology).
-setting up programmes for women with a particular focus on entrepreneurs and community managers (among other initiatives, the CFTC is helping three African universities develop specialised programmes in entrepreneurship for women in non-traditional sectors).
-coordinating wider linkages among professional networks to facilitate exchanges of information and examples of best practice (the CFTC recently helped to set up the Commonwealth Association for Public Administration and Management to assist in improving public service performance and in raising ethical standards).
Expertise on tap
Shortage of skills is one of the biggest stumbling-blocks facing countries trying to raise the living standards of their people. Providing experts accounts for about one-third of the CFTC's budget.
Because its assistance is relatively small and carefully targeted, it avoids the potential waste associated with larger scale projects and poor technical planning. In 1993-95, the cost both of a typical long-term expert and an average project was around £50 000 (ECU 62 000) a year. Experts can be in place within three or four weeks of project approval.
During the same period, over 200 long- and short-term experts were provided to 43 developing Commonwealth countries, six dependent territories and 18 regional organisations. The expertise requested is extremely diverse, from hydrography and agroforestry to tourism, statistics, legal affairs, health, social planning and computer science.
Assignments for short-term experts can range from a few days to six months. Their role is advisory, helping governments to introduce new systems or technologies. Long-term experts stay usually from six months to two years; others may stay up to four years. Experts assist in the development and implementation of policies or in the provision of managerial skills and the training of counterpart staff to take over in due course. Some long-term experts are trainers in specialist fields.
The CFTC makes every effort to appoint women experts. In 1993-95, they made up 13% of experts that were sent to the field. These included a consultant anaesthetist in Ghana, an agricultural economist in Mozambique, an information specialist in Barbados, a fisheries development officer in Papua New Guinea and an environmental lawyer in Seychelles.
A scheme to allow suitably qualified and experienced people to volunteer as short-term experts for a maximum of three months was launched in mid-1995. The scheme draws on experts from the Commonwealth who are willing to give their services on a voluntary basis to developing countries.
Entrepreneurs come first
In its help to small businesses, the CFTC focuses on those who manage the businesses and identify new entrepreneurial talent. Most assistance is given to small states, especially in the Pacific. The programme has three phases: the first relates to 'surveys of opportunity' which is aimed at identifying suitable entrepreneurs, investment opportunities and potential for expansion as well as specific problems. Next comes 'workshops on entrepreneurship development' during which business owners and operators are helped to think creatively, to become more aware of opportunities that are available and to act strategically when planning expansion. And the last are what we call 'business clinics' in which one-to-one counselling is provided to an entrepreneur at his or her business. This personal support has proved very successful in helping individual entrepreneurs to become more efficient and competitive and, by implication, adapt to changing world economic conditions.
The CFTC has pioneered the use of Contact-Promotion programmes and 'Buyer-Seller Meets' forums to help small exporters. These forums allow company representatives, often from small Commonwealth countries, to display their wares and meet prospective buyers from other countries. CFTC consultants plan these activities well ahead, short listing producers that are likely to succeed, identifying suitable foreign markets and advising on redesigning of products. Sometimes exporters and factory staff also receive training.
The CFTC funds a special 'export development programme' for women entrepreneurs. This includes detailed country studies of women engaged in exporting as well as sales promotions abroad. Studies of this type have recently been conducted in Cyprus, Sri Lanka and Zambia.
Women are helped, under the programme, to adapt their handicrafts for export, improve their manufacturing techniques and undertake sales missions abroad. Training is also given in export marketing, product development, costing and pricing. If necessary, changes to government policy are recommended. In 1994, the assistance given to Ghanaian women to develop markets for their basket ware and handicrafts is estimated to have helped generate sales worth US$3.1 million (ECU 2.4m).
by Digby Swift
The European Community's investments in human resource development-health, nutrition and education-in ACP states have regularly been covered in the pages of this magazine whether in the context of dosiers or of country resorts. Here we present a brief description of how the EU's policy in education and training evolved under the Yaounde and Lomonvemntions.
Educating all the people. This is not just a slogan. In a poor, underdeveloped country, there may be some short-term gains from supplying high quality education and training to an elite few. But, as the 'Asian Miracle' has proved, major long-term gains in development and wealth are possible only if the entire population possesses a reasonable level of education.
Now for the problem. For many countries, notably those of sub-Saharan Africa, a large proportion of school age children receive no education at all. Of those who do attend school, many receive little benefit from their education because of the very low quality of provision. Only a small minority reach secondary education. And yet a higher proportion than ever of national budgets is now going to the education sector.
The problem is urgent because of the time it will take to resolve. Even if we could wave a magic wand to provide all children with a good primary education, it would take a decade to see the benefits.
How is European aid helping to tackle this problem? What have been the guiding principles of European aid to education in the past? And why is the problem still acute in, for example, subSaharan Africa, despite decades of investment in aid to education?
Aid mirrors developments
Aid to education has mirrored developments in the education sectors of the countries concerned. For example, the low-income countries of Africa, which account for 73% of Africa's population, have seen a rapid expansion in their education systems followed by a collapse of funding. This has resulted in a serious decline in standards of provision. European aid, which began by providing piecemeal assistance to infrastructure and manpower, shifted to a 'project approach' to tackle these emerging problems and is now moving towards a coordinated sectoral approach to help tackle the reform of whole education systems.
From 1970 to 1980, the number of pupils enrolling in the primary schools of developing countries more than doubled, and the numbers in secondary and tertiary education quadrupled. Even relative to the increasing population, there was a 90% increase in the proportion of primary-aged children in school, and a large increase in the proportion of girls. This growth was accompanied by a doubling of government budgetary resources made available to education.
In the massive general economic decline between 1980 and 1985, the money made available for education from the public purse fell by 40%, yet the education systems continued to grow. The result was that teachers' salaries plummeted, and funds for non-salary recurrent costs such as teaching materials and maintenance virtually dried up.
Since 1985, the financial situation has somewhat improved and funding is now at an all-time high. Nevertheless, for many African states, the education sector is in a state of crisis. Buildings are crumbling and inadequate; teachers are untrained or undertrained and often absent because of low incentives and weak supervision. There are few books and other teaching materials. Consequently, many pupils leave school virtually illiterate and innumerate. Moreover, because of the low quality of instruction and increasing costs to parents, many parents are no longer bothering to send children to school even when places are available. Primary enrolment fell by around 10% between 1990 and 1992. Thus in many countries, a fundamental reform of the sector is seen as the only way forward.
Evolution of aid
In the early days of European aid, education and training were seen as suppliers of manpower for countries to modernise their economies. The priority themes of the 1970 Yaounde Convention for European Community aid were industrialisation, regional cooperation and international trade. Community support to education and training focused on the construction of colleges and university faculties to serve industrialisation and regional cooperation.
The 1975 Lom Convention referred specifically to 'the establishment of regional institutions of advanced technology, in the context of training programmes to enable nationals to participate fully in economic development'.
The 1980 LomI Convention introduced multiannual training programmes, and support in the form of training awards and courses/seminars; experts and instructors; teaching equipment; collaboration between training or research establishments and universities. The emphasis was still on vocational training for other sectors.
A significant proportion of European bilateral aid to education and training took the form of European teachers for secondary schools, colleges and universities. These helped to cover the shortage of locally trained teachers, whilst educating an elite able to fill senior and middle positions in the public and private sectors.
By 1985, problems were becoming all too apparent within the education systems being supported. As in other sectors, there was increased emphasis on the 'project approach' towards tackling these problems. Thus the Lomll Convention includes support to education and training 'in the form of integrated programmes aimed at a well defined objective'. This could include, for example, 'assisting the ACP States' own efforts to restructure their educational establishments and systems and to update curricula, methods and technology employed, in order to step up the effectiveness and cut back the cost of all types of training'. A concern for under-represented groups, particularly women, was also becoming explicit.
By 1990, the concept of investing in people through education and training had moved high on the donor agenda, and alongside it, a growing concern for sectoral reform. According to the 1989 LomV Convention, 'Cooperation shall be aimed at supporting development in the ACP States, a process centred on man himself and rooted in each people's culture. It shall back up the policies and measures adopted by those States to enhance their human resources, increase their own creative capacities and promote their cultural identities. Cooperation shall also encourage participation by the population in the design and execution of development operations.' In a chapter entitled Operations to enhance the value of human resources, a section on Education and Training refers to supporting the ACP State's efforts to 'reform their basic education institutions and systems, in particular by providing overall primary education coverage and adjusting imported systems as well as building them into development strategies'.
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, European states and the Community joined the World Bank in support of structural adjustment. In a 1991 communication to the European Development Council, the Commission stated that it 'will give absolute priority to the social dimension of adjustment, in particular ensuring that the health and education sectors are adequately covered, in conjunction with sectoral reforms introduced or planned in these two areas.'
Balancing this concern for system reform has been a growing appreciation of the importance of decentralised cooperation. An example is the cost-sharing microprojects for grassroots development first introduced in Lom with explicit mention of support to primary schools. Another example is the need to support the activities of nongovernmental organisations.
A new policy
Two events in the early 1990s have had a profound impact on European support for education and training. The first was the World Conference on Education for All: Meeting the Basic Learning Needs held in Jomtien in 1990. This emphasised the need for universal
primary education and adult literacy to be firmly placed on the political agenda, and has resulted in a profound swing of donor support away from higher education and towards primary education. The second important event was the 1992 Treaty of European Union which requires the coordination of Member States' policy and operations, particularly in the social sectors. Guidelines are contained in the 1994 Council Resolution on support to education and training in developing countries in which 'the Council emphasises that education, in particular basic education, is a fundamental right'.
According to the Resolution, 'the priority for the Community and the Member States must be both to maximise access to education within the limits of the resources available and to ensure that the quality of education provided is suited to the needs of the majority of students. 'This is to be achieved through 'a balanced, programme-based strategy, tailored to the specific circumstances of the individual developing country', with pride of place accorded to basic education. It should provide 'support to the developing countries' own policies and efforts', not acting as a substitute for local initiative, and should involve better integration of action under structural adjustment with education sector priorities and aid activities. The Council also recommends a special emphasis on coordination in a number of pilot countries.
From the outset, Community aid to education and training in
African, Caribbean and Pacific countries has been in response to requests from
the ACP states with an emphasis on ownership of the resulting programme by those
states. What the new policy introduces into this process is a dialogue between
government and all donors on needs, priorities and approaches set in the context
of the education sector as a whole. Only through such a comprehensive approach
can developing countries and European states reach a true partnership in
realising the education and training needs of all citizens on which the future
of their countries so crucially