Young Scientists

Isabelle Adolé Glitho: "Many African young scientists don’t return in Africa because they lack proper information"

Who are you?

Professor Isabelle Adolé Glitho, Faculty of Sciences at the University of Lomé. I am the former dean of this faculty. And I am in this YASE conference as the chair of the scientific committee.

Why don’t young African scientists return after they completed their education?

We cannot say that young scientists do not return because, as you have seen from the survey we conducted, there are young scientists who return. Those who have understood how to return, and how to find a job, usually return. The others, almost 90%, do not return. Either because they have found a better position: higher wages, or they have been hired by the host university that trained them, where they have the equipment to continue their research and to evolve. Some people don't return because they don't know how to return. Because they lack information. They do not know where to go when they return home to make sure they find a job. Fear of the unknown keeps them outside of the country, even so they live in dire situations. In this conference, we talk with young people, and we show them tips, give them information, show them the doors that need to be opened to be able to return safely. You can't ask a young person to come home if they're not sure they'll find a job.

Are African countries structured to wellcome these young African scientists trained in Europe?

All countries south of the Sahara have set up a "diaspora" programme. And this "diaspora" program is generally run by the Prime Minister. This shows how important the return of the diaspora, or partnership with the diaspora, are. Now, is everything in place so that our young people can massively return home? It's difficult. As it stands, we have set up research policies, and in some countries these policies do not even exist yet. We are restructuring higher education and research. Not so long ago, most States came together to declare research and higher education a priority for Africa. From now on, I believe that the States will put money there. I hope that in a few years, young African scientists will have well equipped research infrastructures, so they will not hesitate to return. Our doctoral schools are already structured, we have regional doctoral colleges. So we create things that will attract our young people. We must be conscious that they won’t all return. But those who will have opportunities to return will take them. And more important, those who won’t return will cooperate with their countries.

Interview by Jean-Bruno Tagne


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