I refer to the statement from Minister of Education, Dr Rupert Roopnaraine that 93% of all persons leaving Guyana have obtained tertiary education. He made the comment from the 2016 report by the World Bank on Migration and Remittances. This to my mind is very disturbing news and the Minister considers the situation “a national tragedy and a painful fact the country has to deal with”. He lamented the fact that persons who have been educated locally proceeded to leave after graduating.
He gave a few reasons why persons departed from these shores including remuneration, working conditions and facilities, and also referred to other factors including health reasons and to join family members overseas. He, however, failed to mention favouritism, jobs for party supporters and friends, regardless of which government is in power. This was the trend in the Burnham administration, and when the PPP/C took over the government it was not better, and maybe it was worse.
If the government wants to curb the mass migration by intellectuals they have to make some drastic changes, and this is not likely. It may be impossible because party stalwarts will stand up for their supporters and friends although they might not be the right person for the job. On the other hand, the country cannot offer too many incentives because of its limited resources.
British Guiana/Guyana started to bleed through migration ‒ most of them the intelligent migrants ‒ before independence in 1966, and during the Burnham era there was mass exit not only by qualified people, but those from all sectors. This trend continued and maybe worsened when the PPP/C took over the government in 1992.
I must say at this juncture while Guyana is suffering from the brain drain, other countries are benefiting significantly. Moreover scores if not hundreds of Guyanese have excelled in many fields in education, medicine, computers, law, commerce and trade, as well as many other areas in the sciences and arts. Some of them have made us proud and on many occasions comments have been made that if they had remained at home they would not have been given the opportunity to grow to such impressive extent. I should point out also that the standard of living of most of the Guyanese in the diaspora is very high ‒ a level which they could not have reached in the country of their birth.
Some of them ‒ unfortunately only a few ‒ are making significant and reasonable contributions to organizations, schools and churches at home. One name stands out: Dr Tulsi Singh of Palmyra, who has been assisting his alma mater, Berbice High School, for the past thirty years on a regular basis. He has also been promoting cricket.
Be that as it may, the government should try to work out a strategy whereby they can encourage their qualified professionals, teachers, nurses, tradesmen, farmers, etc, to remain at home. This is not an easy task, but steps must be taken to prevent the haemorrhage because if the trend continues the co-operative republic will be grossly handicapped.
This is such an important issue the government should seek the assistance of the opposition, religious, social and cultural organizations.