• Monday, June 17, 2024
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International education: Brain drain or brain gain?

Global skills partnership can fix Nigeria’s brain drain

I was recently reviewing an international report on the numbers of international students heading to the United Kingdom in January 2022- India, China, and Nigeria lead the way.

Even though Nigeria comes third, things become more telling when you look at the percentage of Indians and Chinese students leaving home compared to their respective populations of over 1 billion people.

Nigeria comes third with a population of around 200 million. The statistics, therefore, showed that the percentage of Nigerians leaving Nigeria in relation to her population places the country at the top of the leader board!

Why do people move?

There are a number of reasons people move abroad and they tend to fall into these categories:

Economic migrants

This group feels they have something to offer and their time and talents are being wasted at their current location. The group believes the grass is greener on the other side and they simply want to go and make money.

It has seen images of friends on Facebook who left three weeks ago and believes there is only one way- that way is out!

Education Migrants

This group’s claim is simple- I am leaving my country to acquire a better quality of education overseas. I must add rather quickly that this group tends to have ‘economic goals’ somewhere behind their minds or in front. In other words, after my studies, I will stay back and work for as long as I can.

Security migrants

This group’s claim is equally very simple. My country is not safe and I prefer to be somewhere I can walk around in freedom. They point out the kidnaps and many worrying headlines and they think it will only get worse. Feeling helpless there is no rationale thing to do than to exit.

Read also: FG urged to tackle poverty among Nigerian youths

Medical migrants

I have a health condition which my country does not understand. If I wish to increase my chances of living longer or to have a better quality of life…I must leave now!

There are other reasons but above are some of the key reasons.

The benefits

Going abroad to study has some key benefits which cannot be overemphasized such as

-World-class and quality education

-Opportunity to learn from other cultures

-Lecturers and professors who want their students to do better than they did, no strikes, and guaranteed graduation date from the onset (not even Covid-19 can stop this from happening)

-With some institutions, you get the opportunity to broaden your network and many other reasons.

But what about Brain drain?

This is going to be a big issue going forward. Humans have naturally gravitated towards opportunities and better life where given the option. It is therefore a natural human instinct to aspire or pursue these goals.

There is also the question of value- for some people especially as we have seen in the medical profession where they do not feel valued or appreciated they naturally look for greener pastures.

That said, brain drain is real and it appears our governments do not appreciate this yet. The western world has an aging population and it would require an energetic and youthful group to help power her economy and surprise, surprise; Nigeria and Africa have a majority of youthful population. This is exactly what we are seeing and there is much more to come.

Successful economies require a very well-trained and educated workforce and do everything to retain them.

For us in Nigeria, we just do not seem to understand that our competitive advantage has to be the people and we must equip them and retain them!

Brain gain?

But there are pluses when people go abroad either to study or work- there is a brain-gain element too.

They are exposed to what works and are part of systems that work. Very often this gives them an opportunity to see where the gaps are back at home and how to fill them. It is therefore wise of our governments to see how this pool of talents can be engaged or attracted.

The Chinese and Indians have done this successfully- they sent their children abroad to learn how things work and those children came back home to build companies now competing with the western players.

So where do we go from here?

‘Brains’ are never permanently lost. Once the conditions are favourable the brains may return! It is therefore pertinent that the right conditions and the enabling environments are in place to encourage the talents to return.

Ogunbode, is the chief executive officer at International Education Corporation Group and director at African Education Group.