Brain drain means losing your brains. Put simply, it means when you lose your qualified people to other countries. This has been going on for decades, perhaps centuries in many countries around the world.
You can educate and train people but when the circumstances in your country are not conducive for them to excel at what they learned, they will leave the country to go into another country which promises a better life for them.
The world is now a global village and Uganda must keep this in mind. Information flows at supersonic speeds. You will lose your most qualified people to other countries and this will impact job creation, innovation and economic growth. Many people do leave their countries, work abroad and return home though.
The case for Uganda is below:
Every human has basic needs – shelter, food, safety, family, education, medical care and employment.
Where Uganda has failed most people who leave the country are all the above.
- You have shelter but can be kidnapped from your house at night. Or you can have robbers show up and gun you down while walking away with your kabiriti and analog TV.
- Some 10 million Ugandans do not have enough to eat daily. We are talking about one of the most fertile countries on earth. When you take away the lands from the people, they cannot grow food to feed their families, community and the country.
- Safety is something that is on everyone’s mind these days. Arbitrary arrests and kidnappings with the ensuring tortures make people fear for their lives.
- Did you know that these days families in Uganda do not even trust each other? Then those who stick together end up losing one or two of their family members.
- Education seems to be horrendous. How do you graduate tens of thousands of kids yearly and then you think the best thing is to send them abroad? You are draining the country of your own brains. You only do this because you have bastardized the education system so badly that you think a 3 or 4 year degree is worthless in your own country? Is that the case? Do you know how much these young people and their families sacrifice to get that degree?
- Medical care is truly unbelievable in Uganda. How can you have so many die of preventable and treatable diseases? People fly out of the country for even malaria. Imagine that. Then add in the outrageous number of mothers who die in child birth. In 2015 when a group of FDC women tried to deliver mother kits and were turned away, my heart sunk because I thought Uganda has become heartless. Have you become so heartless as to let a woman carry a baby for 9 months in her belly and then just abandon her to die on a cement floor and many of their offspring die too? Get some compassion.
- Employment is now a luxury and yet it is a basic need. We all need a purpose in life. Work is rewarding. If you keep the country unemployed, people will leave to go find work elsewhere or cause you problems.
You export medics to other countries with signed contracts. Now if you think about this you will see why funders threatened to cut off funding in 2015. Good funders give you money to train and retain your people to build your medical system. They want to give you a fishing rod not the fish. You on the other hand get funding to train them then you send them elsewhere.
You watch many of your young people seek jobs abroad and immigrate (without your involvement) and this should be a concern because most have Ugandan passports to use to exit the country. If I were you, instead of frustrating them, I would do an Exit Interview with them, let them leave but address the issues which made them decide to leave.
Martha Leah Nangalama
The author is an IT Analysit for an Oil company and has job recruiting experience.