Thursday, 24 January 2008

Hey, Davos seems to work

It seems to me that Davos may actually work!

Let me explain. I have a long term ambition to build a network of charitable "gifted and talented" academies across Africa, modelled on the UK's national academy for gifted and talented established by Professor Deborah Eyre. If Davos is what is claims to be, then it ought to be able to grab an initiative like mine and help bring it to life. So, I thought I'd put it to the test.

I picked a few sessions that might be relevant to this goal - a session on Africa, one bringing technology and social entrepreneurs together and one on the fight against corruption. And I put my (limited) networking skills to work.

Low and behold a few hours later and I find myself in a series of conversations with a World Bank executive, the Vice Chancellor of a leading southern African university, the representative of a multi-billion dollar US charitable foundation and a former Education Minister. There is practical advice, suggestions, offers of introductions and genuine desire to hear more and to follow up outside of Davos.

If there are a thousand other initiatives going through the same cycle as we speak, if the power of the Davos network can turn a concept like this into reality then perhaps this thing called Davos really does work!


Anonymous said...

have they given you practical advice on how to identify the 'talent'? I think the real waste of talent in Africa, or at least Nigeria is the lack of access to what we would consider basic educational needs over here(UK) so a large percentage of 'talent' is wasted from the very start as we learn most things pretty early. I suppose you have to start somewhere though (ie you cant solve all the problems) and support of kids already in the system is a good thing anyway. I may sound cynical but the kids usually identified tend to be already in the top 10% of the society and it is mainly sheer luck that allows the bottom feeders any where near schemes like this.

Tom Ilube said...

your right, spotting talent is the hardest part of this type of programme. There is some learning to be had form the UK but we'll have to work it out from the ground up. However from my years in school in Africa (Uganda and Nigeria, primary, secondary and Uni at various times) I've met some absolutely brilliant guys who would have been picked out straight away if they have been in the UK, China, USA etc. We've got to find a way to unleash those brilliant guys nad girls, I think



Sean said...

In case you hadn't already seen it, I thought you would be interested in this TED Talk from Arusha last June. I thought it was one of the most powerful and inspirational stories at the conference:

Patrick Awuah left a comfortable life in Seattle to return to Ghana and co-found, against the odds, a liberal arts college. Why? Because he believes that Ghana's failures in leadership -- and he gives several mind-boggling examples -- stem from a university system that fails to train real leaders. In a talk that brought the TEDGlobal audience enthusiastically to their feet, he explains how a true liberal arts education -- steeped in critical thinking, idealism, and public service -- can produce the quick-thinking, ethical leaders needed to move his country forward.