On the 7th of April, 2017, the state of New York, USA announced that it would be launching free education programs in their state colleges for people from families that earn less than $125,000 annually.
This is a great news considering the cost of education in the state is outrageously high for the low-income earners and for youths who have to depend on income from menial jobs to be able to feed and perhaps pay rent.
As the saying goes, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction and more specifically, to whom much is given, much is expected.
This announcement which came as a huge relief to the society came with its terms and condition that whoever is interested cannot afford to ignore. It states that whoever that partakes in this free ride must live and work in New York.
The governor of the state, Gov. Cuomo, in a bid to defend the decision, stated “Why should New Yorkers pay for your college education and then you pick up and you move to California?”. Although this may seem as selfish, his intentions are economically logical.
This brought a clearer view of what goes on in developing countries.
Take Nigeria as an example, it is a general belief that no matter the geographical region you may find yourself, you will most likely find a Nigerian. On an average, a Nigerian would rather move to another country to earn money in foreign currency than remain in Nigeria to help build it. This is understandable considering the harsh state of the economy and its devalued currency. This action is financially justifiable as in most of these cases, the person involved tends to send remittances to their relatives back in Nigeria for upkeep and/or investments.
Judging by this, brain drain does not seem to be bad idea, does it?
Well, this has a deep and far-reaching implication if looked at from another perspective.
Consider healthcare for a moment, Doctors trained in some of the world’s poorest countries where getting a medical qualification is far less rigorous than it is in the UK are being recruited by the National Health Service (NHS).
Besides the fact that this contributes to the continuous growth of the host nations through income taxes paid by these people; the mortality rate in migrants nation keeps increasing.
Since the specialists have all migrated to these developed nations with a working system, we are left with little or no specialists in our hospitals thereby warranting anyone with need for advanced medical treatments to have to travel abroad for such. This leaves us with a case of “survival-of-the-privileged”, as it is only the privilege that can afford this.
Sadly, corollary to this exists outside of the health sector. We often hear about people from the third world countries making significant impacts in the developed nations. This is even more common in the technology space.
It might be argued that the brain drain would most likely occur irrespective of the person leaving the country or not. This is directed towards the high level of unemployment/underemployment that has continued to be a plague in developing countries. Hence, suggesting that these economies pose as hindrances to the society by leaving the highly intelligible of her citizens mentally and physically handicapped in terms of contributing to their personal growth and that of the economy.
It has been estimated that foreign scientists from developing countries who are involved in research and development produce 4.5 more publications and 10 times more patents than their counterparts at home. Why is there such a vast difference in productive capacity? The context and conditions in which science and technology are able to prosper require political decisions, funding, infrastructure, technical support, and a scientific community; these are generally unavailable in developing countries.
The puzzle remains if the developing countries are responsible for the brain drain or if the brain drain is responsible for the stagnant state of these countries.
Ultimately, involving individuals in diaspora in creating opportunities at home favors both the retention and revival of national talent. Building an enlightened leadership and an enabling national scientific community, with the help of expatriate citizens, for the development of scientific and technological capacity in developing countries will be mutually beneficial.