Sharing the Wealth by Sharing the Knowledge: Conference Series Looks at Forming Partnerships between Developing Nations and American Universities

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Sharing the Wealth by Sharing the Knowledge: Conference Series Looks at. Forming Partnerships Between Developing Nations and American Universities

CHICAGO -- African nations are looking to colleges and universities in the United States to help solve the continent's problems of poverty, insecurity and a lack of government accountability, a member of the Ugandan Parliament said here recently.

"We want to take technology at any level," said Manuel Pinto, who is also a member of the New York-based Parliamentarians for Global Action.

Elaborating on his wish list, Pinto added: "We want programs such as life skills, simple math, communication skills, supervising work, record keeping and transactions, and simple agriculture projects to produce high-yield crops. We want these to link up with African colleges and universities in partnerships to provide vocational and industrial training."

According to Pinto, the partnerships are necessary to ensure that African nations benefit through associations with American campuses.

"Often researchers come to Africa to do work that benefits them and not us and many times they don't even publish what they find," he explained.

Pinto's invitation to American universities came during a conference at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). The conference was called to begin a process through which universities and colleges can assist in economic and human development around the world.

About seventy government officials, academicians, union leaders and students from the United States, Africa and Europe attended the conference, titled Human Development and Economic Growth.

The 1996 Human Development Report prepared by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the world's anti-poverty agency, was the centerpiece of the two-day conference that was held earlier this month. It was the first time the annual report, initially published in 1990, had been presented at a campus in the United States.

The conference was sponsored by the PEOPLE Program (Public Elected Officials and Others Providing Leadership and Exchange) in Chicago and UIC's Institute of Government and Public Affairs, the Institute for Research on Race and Comparative Public Policy, and the College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs.

The conference is also connected to a meeting held in May at UIC which discussed the role of Black intellectuals and the Black community in policy formation, organizers said.

The report ranks developed and developing countries based on a human development index that measures life expectancy, educational attainment and income. For example, the index ranks the United States as first in the world, but if African Americans were measured alone they would be ranked thirty-first in the world -- comparable to Trinidad and Tobago. In past reports, males in Bangladesh have been ranked with higher life expectancies than African American males in Harlem.

In opening remarks, Djibril Diallo, the UNDP's director of public affairs, said, "We strongly feel that unless people in rich and poor countries work together to build a more equitable society, the transition to the twenty-first century will be fraught with insurmountable problems for all countries."

Through a network of 134 countries, the UNDP supports development activities in more than 170 nations and territories, according to Diallo, who explained, "Our main areas of focus are poverty eradication, job creation, advancement of women, protection of the environment and good governance. …