Brain drain: Considering the Chinese and Indian experience
In last couple of decades Bangladesh has made significant progress in the areas of women empowerment, information and communication technology, health and was rewarded by different international organizations for its contributions.
Education, which is considered the backbone of a nation, also saw major progress during that time as government remained very positive in investing on education. Number of both private and public universities, other educational institutes has significantly increased.
Though these newly established educational institutes have produced thousands of students but the job market has not been expanded enough to accommodate those graduates. Considering the comparatively small job market, many students and skills individuals are willingly going abroad for higher studies, job purpose or permanent residence. For instance, in 2017 a total of 7,143 Bangladeshis went to the US for education. Statistics of Ministry of Expatriates' Welfare and Overseas Employment revealed that some 10, 77,000 people migrated from Bangladesh in 2017. However, one of major problems of such process is the low rates of return especially highly talented individuals.
A study of World Economic Forum showed that 82 percent of young people aged 15 to 29 prefer migration and they have no wish to live in Bangladesh. UK's Office of National Statistics (ONS) in August 2017 reported that between April 2016 and April 2017, 1,050 Bangladeshi students extended their leave to remain in Britain after the expiry of their student visas.
Like Bangladesh, the same tendency has been reported in our neighbouring countries like India and economically powerful China and Malaysia. In India, 153,000 students went abroad to pursue their higher education and most of them did not return. Even in China, in the same year, out of 3.05 million students sent abroad, 818,400 have returned according to the Ministry of Education.
The writer argues, considering the current trends of migration and going abroad, the government need to rethink about tackling brain-drain and how it can accommodate local talents within the country. There were many talented students, young researchers who could not fulfil their dream projects and innovations for the lack funding or patronization. Recently, a student of East West University was looking for fund to complete his outstanding project on Robotics. Another individual invented a vehicle that can move above the water.
This writer strongly argues similar hundreds of projects and innovations need focus and patronization from government. Unless those individuals are being recognized and patronized, one day those individuals will move abroad and never come back again. Hence, those individuals will become resources of foreign countries that easily could have been our great resources.
The first step can be exploring what other countries are doing to tackle brain-drain and how far it was successful. Country like China, India and Malaysia are taking commendable efforts to bring back highly talented skilled human resources. India are offering job in their Ministry of Science and Technology to bring back their talented NRI scientist and became successful to return 500 scientists back to home.
The neighbouring country also established Fellowship in science for Inspired Research program for the same purpose. China has a medium and long-term talent development plan (2010-2020) with a goal to transform the nation from a manufacturing sector to one of innovation. Furthermore, China's local governments have stepped in to develop multiple talent recruitment initiatives which brought back 20,000 highly-skilled individuals to home. More than 3,600 applications of Malaysians returnees have been approved via TalentCorp's Returning Expert Program (REP).
In order to attract highly talented skilled Bangladeshis, program like TalentCorp's Returning Expert Program (REP), job opportunities, fellowship can be arranged by government. Like China, a medium and long-term talent development plan with a goal to bring back highly human resource can also be considered by government.
On top of bringing back the talented Bangladeshi, we also need to find out our local talents and patronize them. In this purpose, a National Talent Hunt Program on various issues like science and technology, agriculture, education etc can be arranged.
Experience of Math Olympiad and other similar Olympiads which has already become popular can be taken into the consideration while arranging national talent hunt program. A technical committee will evaluate submitted projects or innovations and based on outstanding features in terms of local and global impact they will be awarded with scholarship, fellowship and exchange program within and outside the country under the condition of returning home to contribute for the nation.
The writer assumes that, it would not be easy for government to turn this task into reality. One major challenge would be the crisis of funding. The writer argues that there is a lot opportunity in making it happen if the proposal can be made interesting to different stakeholders. We have seen our honourable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina taking commendable projects like Padma Bridge, Metro Rail, and country's 1st Satellite etc. The writer believes, PM will also be favourable to bring back highly talented Bangladeshi to home and give a bigger platform to our local talented students, teachers, and young researchers contributing to the national development.
In this purpose, PM can allocate special fund for program like national talent hunt and Talent Corp's Returning Expert Program (REP). Apart from the funding of PM, government senior officials like Secretary, Additional Secretary, Parliamentary Members, District Commissioners and other affluent person of the country can also contribute and patronize extraordinary innovations, projects in local and national level. Ahead of election, this initiative can create a positive image of the government before mass people and international communities.
Besides government support, corporate, business groups, industrialists, banks, embassies can also contribute to the national talent hunt program. We have seen that telecom operators like GP, Robi sponsoring our national cricket team, pacer hunt program and still continuing to patronize other similar programs. The writer argues these corporate houses should more focus on patronizing national talents hunts in the areas of science, education, development etc rather than musical shows, concerts or other commercial programs. Students and young researcher who are conducting research on telecom and other similar areas can be approached through funding, scholarship, patronization by telecom operators.
In addition to corporate, business conglomerates like PRAN, Square, Runner, PHP, Jamuna, Basundhara, Transcom etc can also patronize innovative and outstanding projects, innovations especially of students and young researchers. Dutch Bangla Bank, Dhaka Bank and few other banks provide scholarship to poor but meritorious students. There are hundreds of foundations which provide scholarships to students of different public and private universities. On top of giving scholarships, these banks and foundations can also contribute in completing an outstanding research project of students or young researchers.
However, embassy of different countries can be a part of national talent hunt program through funding or patronizing outstanding research projects or innovations. The writer believes that, if the government becomes positive, INGO's, embassies and other relevant institutions will be ready to be part of this noble initiative.
The writer is a former student of Mass Communication and Journalism at the University of Dhaka