Transformation of Bangladesh to scholar exporter and next
The other day a Bangladeshi PhD student was tutoring a Saudi student in the atrium of the library. Right at that time, the father of the student called over the phone and the student said that he had been taking some tutorial help from a Bangladeshi. The father was surprised, can Bangladeshi help in higher study? Because in Saudi Arabia, he might have seen only Bangladeshi labor, not any Bangladeshi scholar. This has happened in Swinburne university of Technology, where more than 50 Bangladeshis students are pursuing for their PhD degree along with other masters and undergraduate students.
Not only that Saudi father, but we Bangladeshis also think that Bangladesh is a country of cheap labors in the garment industry and exporter of labors in other countries, especially in the middle east. But silently Bangladesh has become scholar exporter. Hardly there is any country in the world where no Bangladeshi scholar working. Every year a handsome number of Bangladeshi graduates going abroad, in different universities of the world for higher study, particularly for PhD. We consider only the labors are contributing in increased remittance. But scholars are also making significant contribution in remittance.
If look with observatory eyes, then we will discover that in countries like Malaysia and South Korea, where Bangladeshi people usually used to go as labor, Bangladeshis are now working as scholars; changing the attitude of the people of those countries towards Bangladesh. There are approximately 50 Bangladeshi PhD students in one Malaysian university. Seoul national university has close to a dozen of Bangladeshi PhD students. Certainly there are Bangladeshi students in other universities of these lands.
Needless to mention that the United States of America is the most lucrative destination for PhD and postdoctoral for Bangladeshis students. The majority of the Bangladeshi students goes to USA after completing their PhD in Japan and elsewhere as we know from a statistic published in Global network of Bangladeshi Biotechnologiest and as a Microbiologist graduate from University of Dhaka.
One PhD student from a Canadian university informed that there are around 150 Bangladeshi PhD students in that university. The Facebook group, Prospective Bangladeshi students in Canadian Universities, has 14557 members. This shows how many people are preparing to go to Canada for higher studies.
In the east, Japan is an old destination for Bangladeshi students to pursue PhD. Recently Bangladeshi students are also going to China and Hongkong for PhD and other degrees.
In the middle east, most of the Bangladeshi scholars are coming via western countries. They have obtained a PhD and gained research and teaching experience in those developed countries and now heading toward middle east for better scope.
Few, if not some, Bangladeshi students are also doing their PhD in our closest neighbor India.
In Europe, Germany is another lucrative destination. The Facebook group, Bangladeshi student and alumni association in Germany, has more than 18000 members. Other European countries such as Norway, Sweden, Finland, Belgium are frequent destination of Bangladeshi students for higher study. The Netherlands is the preferred destination for Bangladeshi students for higher study, particularly for PhD.
The Facebook group, Bangladeshi student and alumni Association in Australia, has more than 6000 members. There are 38 universities in Australia. If there are on an average 25 PhD students, then there are 950 Bangladeshi students doing a PhD in Australia. This average is not exaggerated. Small university like Swinburne has around 50 PhD students.
All these information shows only the tip of the iceberg of Bangladeshi scholars in different countries of the world. We can easily guess that approximately 10 thousand Bangladeshi students are pursuing for their PhD worldwide. Every year at least 1000 Bangladeshi students leaving the country to pursue PhD in abroad. This Bangladesh is developing 1000 PhDs every year, as suggested by Professor Zafar Iqbal, though not actively and without control and not within her boundary.
Even so, how should we look at this export of Bangladeshi scholars in foreign countries? What should be our attitude about it? Should we be worrying too much seeing the brain drain?
Actually we don’t need to worry that much about brain drain at this progressive state of Bangladesh for a number of reasons. These are 1) At this stage, Bangladesh is not able to provide a congenial environment for the growth of her entire talent pool, 2) Overnight such environment can not be developed, 3). Bangladesh is not able to utilize all of the meritorious sons and daughters at the present status and can not develop such capacity overnight, 4).Brain wastage is more harmful than brain drain. If the brain is used anywhere in the world, then Bangladesh gets many things from the output of that brain. If wasted, neither Bangladesh, nor the world benefit from the precious brain, 5). No country in the world is immune to brain drain, from USA, Canada, UK, Japan, Israel and other middle eastern countries. It is not possible to stop brain drain completely (see the graph below), 6). Many of these developed brains will come back to pay the debt of the nation following the example of Dr. Jamal Nazrul Islam, Professor Abdullah Al Mamun, Professor Rabbani E Siddiki, Chief Scientific Officer Mubarak Ahmed Khan. Others will serve country like Dr. Maksudul Alam, Dr. Abed Chowdhury , Dr. Ahmed Azad even living in abroad. Some others will come back failing to survive in abroad. Some others will come back see an entrepreneurial opportunity in Bangladesh, due to their keen sight developed being in abroad.
Nevertheless, we have to minimize brain drain, decreasing gradually. For that, we have to improve the environment gradually to utilize the brain pool so that more and more Bangladeshi brain can be utilized in our own country. We have to improve the working conditions in our research organizations such as Bangladesh atomic energy commission (BAEC), Bangladesh council of scientific and industrial Research (BCSIR), National institute of biotechnology (NIB), Bangladesh rice research instituteJute Research institute, and in our universities along with building new research organizations. Because, after higher study abroad, majority of Bangladeshi doesn’t think coming back to Bangladesh as it becomes apparent before them that they will not be able to utilize the skill and expertise in Bangladesh that they have received over the year.
One more thing should be done - tracking of Bangladeshi talents, where they are going and in which field they are gaining skill and expertise-to utilize in specific projects when needed. This can be done easily in the airport. Questions such as 1. Are you going abroad for higher study (MS, PhD)? 2. Are you a Bangladeshi with PhD degree? 3. If yes, your area/ subject of expertise ?
We want, that day is not far away when Bangladesh will become efficient user of her talent pool from an scholar exporter improving work conditions in her organizations and become brain puller like other developed countries.
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