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Give emigrants reason to return


HUTSON INNISS

Give emigrants reason to return

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PERMIT ME TO COMMENT on your Editorial in the last SUNDAY SUN, which brings attention to the recent report that Barbados is losing two-thirds of its tertiary level educated students to 15 of the world’s most developed countries.

This information, I understand, comes from the latest Inter-American Development Bank quarterly report.

Your editorial states that “there is no point spending large chunks of our finance equipping our young people for the tasks of future nation-building, in all its facets, only to see that high-quality education being applied elsewhere”. I disagree fundamentally with this assertion.

Many of our intellectuals will continue to take advantage of opportunities to further their education overseas beyond the capacity that is available here, and in pursuit of options which cannot be provided in Barbados.

It is primarily as a result of the pursuit of these opportunities that we have seen amazing successes from many of thesons and daughters of our soil all around the world.

I think it is desirable for our young technocrats, intellectuals and artists to be exposed at the highest level to global training and work environments as they develop their skills and ability. The challenge lies not in discouraging them from going, but in making it attractive and desirable for them to return and contribute meaningfully to our society.

There are many professionals who, having gained high levels of success, exposure and experience, would gladly return and contribute management and consultative expertise, either part-time or full-time, in our primary institutions, whether medical, legal, financial or educational, if the right enabling mechanisms could be put in place.

There must be a way of connecting the opportunities to willing participants, and once here they will only have an interest in remaining if they are not confronted with stifling political and institutional blockages which inevitably lead to frustration and an accelerated departure.

In addition, persons who have been exposed to modern, well-equipped, fast-paced, professional environments will not settle for mediocre, run-down facilities staffed by surly, unmotivated individuals.

Innovation

There was a recent BBC live business interview with a young Barbadian, Carlton Cummins, who has made the Forbes’ list of 30 under-30 European science entrepreneurs talking about an initiative to develop energy storage by harnessing the unused energy in used batteries.

This is an incredible innovation that will require investment to realise its full global potential. What can Barbados as a country do to ensure that his dream is realised and to bring the benefits of this business development home?

The answer to our dilemma does not lie in creating obstacles to the brain drain, but rather in laying a return conduit that will ensure the intellectuals return and make meaningful contributions to the benefit of our nation.

– HUTSON INNISS

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