Wetenschap - 1 januari 1970

International conference addresses inequality of knowledge

International conference addresses inequality of knowledge

International conference addresses inequality of knowledge


Are free trade and globalisation leading to development in poor countries
or neo-colonialism? This was the theme of the 75th international conference
on agriculture and development organised last week by KLV (Royal
Netherlands Society for Agricultural Sciences), Larenstein University of
Professional Education and KIT (Royal Tropical Institute). The role of
education and science in the process of globalisation was debated.

The star speaker of the day was Professor Ismael Serageldin, distinguished
professor at Wageningen University, former vice-president of the World Bank
and now director of the Library of Alexandria. He drew attention to the
‘shocking’ gap between rich and poor in the world, warning that it
continues to grow. This is also reflected in an uneven distribution of
scientific capacity. Educating people from developing countries is
therefore important, but the threat of a brain drain looms, which he
illustrated with some figures. Over a quarter of PhD graduates in the
United States come from other countries, and in 1999 nearly three-quarters
of these wanted to remain in the US. A way of stemming the flow is through
sandwich programmes, in which foreign PhD students do a large amount of
their study in their own country. Serageldin is in favour of this system,
adding that special opportunities for women and minority groups can also
help.

Dr Bram Huijsman, director of the North-South Centre at Wageningen UR,
backed up Serageldin with his presentation on the growing number of
international students at Wageningen UR. At present about half of all PhD
graduates in Wageningen come from abroad, compared with a quarter of the
total five years ago, and only ten percent a decade ago. According to
Huijsman, Wageningen UR intends to further extend its international work,
and regards Europe as a springboard to the rest of the world. One idea is
to set up degree courses in other countries, which would make it possible
for someone in China or South Africa to earn a Wageningen degree.

Other voices were heard as well, however. “And is this expansion neo-
colonialism or development?

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