20 years of JJ/WBGSP| Wide Impact| Benefits for African Universities
Reversing Brain Drain| Outstanding Research
June 13, 2007––This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Joint Japan/World Bank Graduate Scholarship Program. Its graduates and some 150 distinguished guests from around the world gathered at Keio University in Japan last week to celebrate this event.
The day was filled with testimonials from successful scholarship recipients.
“My Master’s Degree from the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS) Japan, made possible by the scholarship program, gave me an exceptional opportunity to become a knowledgeable, contributing member of my country’s government,” said Zaza Chelidze, former parliamentary secretary, Ministry of Economic Development, Georgia.
Ngosa Chisupa, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Labour and Social Security, Zambia, shared his experience as a program scholar. “I graduated in 1999 with Master of Philosophy in International Development and Policy Management from the University of Tsukuba, Japan, and went back to Zambia as chief executive officer of the Ministry. I am now responsible for the strategic management of the ministry’s policies and programs.”
Although I am only 41 years old, my country has benefited from the analytical skills that I learned during the program, and I would recommend that this course of study be encouraged for future policy makers and colleagues from developing countries.”
Chelidze and Chisupa were among many accomplished graduates attending the World Bank Institute's (WBI's) international conference "Twenty Years of Investing in Human Capital" organized to recognize the 20-year milestone.
The joint scholarship program was established in 1987 at WBI, with sole funding by the Government of Japan, to mark Japan’s transition from a World Bank borrower to a major Bank contributor. The program’s objective is to help create an international community of highly qualified professionals in economic and social development.
The Honorable Ryutaro Hashimoto, then Minister of Finance and later Prime Minister of Japan, noted that during its development process, Japan, a nation scarce natural resources, became “fully aware of the importance of human resources.” Hashimoto was responsible for significantly scaling up the program from its modest beginnings. Today, Japan contributes about $12 million a year.
Since its inception, the program has awarded 3,554 scholarships for graduate study at 250 universities in 32 World Bank member countries. Awardees come largely from humble backgrounds, and about two-thirds have parents with only high school or lower levels of education. Almost 36 percent come from Africa. The program has supported gender equality by awarding scholarships to an increasingly larger number of women as a share of total applicants.
|“This program plays a very important role in human capacity development in developing countries,” said Mr. Shigeki Kimura, director, Development Institutions Division, International Bureau, Ministry of Finance, in his opening remarks. “These alumni, who are now back in their home countries and occupying important positions in public institutions to better serve the development of their own countries, are living proof of the program’s success.”|| |
Rakesh Nangia, acting vice president of WBI, welcomed the participants by highlighting the uniqueness of Japan’s development strategy that promoted investment in human capital.
|Dr. Yuichiro Anzai, president of Keio University, emphasized the importance of investing in human capacity. He quoted Yukichi Fukuzawa, Keio’s founder, saying that, “access to higher education should depend on an individual’s will and ambition to study and learn, and not on an individual’s or society’s lack of financial availability.”|| |
Benefits for African Universities
“The program not only builds individual capacity but is also instrumental in developing the capacity of four partnership universities in Africa: Makerere University in Uganda, the University of Ghana, the University of Cocody in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, and the University of Yaounde II in Cameroon,” said Kabir Ahmed, WBI’s chief administrative officer and supervising manager of the joint scholarship program.
Beatrice Kiraso, Deputy Secretary General, East African Community, and a graduate of the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, commented, “While Africa grapples with environmental degradation, high mortality rates, and low access to education, programs like this one should be applauded for creating an enabling environment to help empower people in developing economies.
“Creating a critical mass of enlightened people from the world’s poorest and most marginalized countries will help improve the lives of the people in those countries.” Kiraso is responsible for coordinating the integration of the five East African States. “Had I not taken courses at Harvard, the challenges I currently face would have been even greater. How I wish more mid-career professionals could have such an opportunity!”
The African universities are now delivering graduate degree programs in Economic Policy Management. The African Capacity Building Foundation has been working with WBI to make this possible.
Reversing Brain Drain
The program urges all graduates to return to their home countries after completing the program, to ensure that developing countries benefit from scholars’ newly acquired knowledge. About 80 percent are now working in their home countries and 5 percent in other developing countries.
The program targets mid-career professionals in the public sector where there is a serious need for better-trained policy makers and managers. Some 25 percent of the program’s alumni have advanced into senior managerial and executive level positions.
Three alumni who were recognized for their outstanding Master’s degree papers presented their findings at the conference. Their topics were:
After meeting with alumni who have become cabinet members, permanent secretaries, and influential policy makers, as well as with representatives from partner universities, Director Kimura was asked if the scholarship program’s objectives of developing human capacity and building leaders in developing countries was being achieved. His response was crisp and to the point: “Seeing is believing.”
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