Have you ever heard of the “Brain Drain?” If you have been connected with the Philippines for any appreciable amount of time, you probably have heard the term.
For those who don’t know what the term means, generally “Brain Drain” is the term used for the exodus of smart and talented people from the Philippines. You’ve heard of OFW’s (Overseas Filipino Workers), right? Currently there are nearly 12 million Filipinos working in other parts of the world. Naturally, it is the most talented, most educated, and most ambitious of Filipinos who end up working overseas.
Currently, one of the most in demand categories of Filipino workers are nurses. Not only are Filipinos going to nursing school in record numbers, but doctors are even abandoning their profession to be re-trained as nurses and going overseas. You read it correctly, medical doctors, surgeons and such, are shifting into nursing so that they can go work abroad! Some of these doctors will retrain when they get overseas in order so shift back into being a doctor, but not all.
Generally, when you take the most educated people out of society and move them elsewhere, the most ambitious, and the most productive, what is left behind. Well, I am not here to speak badly about the Philippines, but the truth is that when these highly skilled people all tend to leave the country, what is left is of a lower value than what should be here. In other words, if those 11 to 12 Million Filipinos where still here in the Philippines, imagine the advances they could be bringing to society! Imagine how many people those Doctors could have treated, even saved if they had still been here! I don’t blame those who left, though, because there are more opportunities for them by going abroad.
It makes me wonder, though, how can the Philippines advance as a society when it is sending it’s best and brightest minds to go help other countries rather than it’s own? President Arroyo is on a campaign with the stated goal of making the Philippines a “First World nation by 2020.” Can it happen when the country’s brightest individuals are in Saudi Arabia involved in the construction trade? The best of the engineers are working for companies in the USA? The best medical professionals are caregivers in Canada? How does this massive migration benefit the Philippines in terms of becoming a First World nation? Frankly, it doesn’t. Oh sure, there is the short term benefit of those workers sending money back to their families here, but in the long term even that is not helpful for the nation.
Did you realize that there are negative impacts of these overseas workers leaving? Many will tell you that Philippine culture and Family values in the country have been detrimentally effected in the past generation due to this migration out of the country. Families are broken up due to this. Kids go years without seeing their fathers, because “Papa is working in Saudi,” or “Mama is a maid in Singapore.” The loss of these family connections is leading to a big change in family values here. Kids are left alone to fend for themselves, much like it is in the USA when both Mom and Dad work. This is leading to delinquency among teens. While the wife is working in Hong Kong, the husband has taken up a relationship with some other woman. It’s common, very common. And, it’s not good for the Filipino family, or for the country in general.
The brain drain. How can the Philippines live without those brains being here helping their own country succeed and prosper? Of course, when there is no opportunity, if you are talented and smart enough to do so, you have no choice but to go out and find other opportunities that will help you personally prosper!