Monday, May 30, 2011

Lack of scholarships will accelerate brain drain

Wonderful article published today on

By Fed Up

The setting up of Talent Corp Malaysia is obviously a waste of time, money, and effort, if the annual mess of scholarships not awarded fairly and justly, continues.

You can't stop a leaking ship with Band-Aids. We need to seal the holes in the leaking ship permanently otherwise there is no way Talent Corp can stem the tide of those leaving the country.
Let me give the policy-makers a case in point - my son who will be finishing his A-levels this year.

Two years ago, he finished his SPM with 10A's. Like others, he applied for a JPA scholarship, but the result was expected - not a chance. Talk of students getting 8A's or 9As get scholarships, is just that, talk only.

So he went on to take his A-levels at a local private college. He studies hard and diligently, consistently scoring straight A's in all his exams.

In fact, while the maximum number of A-level subjects which students are allowed to take is four, he is taking five.

He has to study the extra subject (chemistry) on his own, outside of the college, yet he scores As too. (He is doing this to give himself a better chance of meeting entry requirements of universities in the degree of his choice.)
Like all students, he applied for his entrance into university with his college's forecast results.

With 5A's at A level predicted, he has been accepted into several top universities in UK (one of them is consistently in the top three in UK and top ten in the world). He has tried to obtain a scholarship but to no avail.
To gain entry into any of the top three or top five universities in UK is not easy. They are highly selective in their choice of students, who have to compete against top students from other countries throughout the world.

Even students with all A's are not necessarily accepted. For overseas students, only the crème de la crème are selected, as most places are reserved for UK and European Union (EU) students.

Now, what happens to these top students upon their graduation from these top universities?

From past years, we know what happens. In their final year of study, even before their graduate, top companies are at their university's Job Fair to grab them.
It is not uncommon for top students to get several job offers. Once grabbed, these students, of course, will be working overseas.

After a few years of work (the first three years are the most critical), you might as well say "goodbye" to them because they are highly unlikely to return to Malaysia.
Why? First, they are gaining experience in their work place and promoted to higher position accordingly. Second, they have settled down comfortably and are earning high pay (which they need, in many instances, to pay back their loans).

Third, they are well treated by their employers, with prospects of gaining citizenships easily. Fourth, they are establishing new friendships and getting accustomed to the new culture and way of life. Fifth, they may get married and settle down for good.

All these reasons make it difficult for them to return and start all over again.

Tax incentives and two cheaper cars are not going to get them back.

What are these incentives compared to other more important things - like the education system that rejected them, the racism that rattled them, the discrimination in promotion that discouraged them, the lower pay they have to sacrifice in comparison to what they are getting, the limited job prospects in a developing economy compared to a developed country, their children's future education here compared to the standard overseas.

Therefore, Talent Corp or no Talent Corp, why should they return?

Once the talent has left, it is hard to win them back. Only a scholarship, given before they leave, can win them back.

Deny them the scholarship they need at the most crucial time of their life, and the chances are (with a few exceptions) they will never come back. Isn't that common sense?

When a person leaves, it is a big decision. But when a family leaves to join him or her, it is a decisive decision - they are not going to return. They have cut off all ties to the nation.

Talent Corp may do their best to win them back, but do you think they will come back? How is Talent Corp going to erase their resentment to the nation that has rejected them?
Without a scholarship, they may have to work two or three jobs to pay their way through university, or their parents may have to borrow a huge loan to see them through.

This means they will bear resentment against the nation that rejected them, or they have no choice but to work overseas in order to pay back the huge loan their parents borrowed.

Either way, they are as good as lost to the nation. Once rejected by the nation, they are unlikely to forget.

I know, and you probably know too, of families in which this has already happened. They had suffered the pain and the rejection over the years, resulting in a reverse flow that has now become a flood of emigrants to oversea countries.

This reverse flow is testimony that people are not coming back.

They have left for good - they are voting with their feet, never to return.

Now, back to my son's predicament and the many talented young men and women who are not getting scholarships in spite of their excellent academic performance.

To deny them scholarships now is to lose the crème de la crème of the nation to other countries.

We have been losing that kind of talents for decades and it shows in our economic performance when compared to the other Asian Tigers (Taiwan, Hong Kong, South Korea and Singapore).

While once we were on the same level as the Asian Tigers, today they have left us far behind. In spite of our rich natural resources, we could not keep up with their economic growth.

Now, even Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam are fast catching up and may soon overtake us in economic development and achievement.
Mediocrity will always produce mediocre results. Only excellence will produce excellent results. Only good trees can produce good fruits.

You can't expect to get good fruits from lousy trees.
Without excellent scholars, we cannot expect high economic performance that is above par.

Lose the nation's talents because of the scholarship mess, and you can't expect the economy in the future to perform above par.

Like trees, it takes years of careful nurturing to produce results. It will take years of giving scholarship to deserving scholars to produce enough talents to get the economy into top gear.

Talents are the seeds we must have in order to grow the economy.
For those who have left, we are unlikely to win them back, whatever Talent Corp may try to do.

Reject the present deserving students of scholarships, and you will lose them forever.

It is no use calling them names later - like ungrateful, unpatriotic, or no loyalty - you are not going to get them back. Be realistic.
Scholarships are what will win them back.

Malaysia must do all it can to keep its talents in the nation and not give them to other countries.
The government must give scholarships to everyone who deserves it.

We have to grow the national talent pool quickly before more are lost forever. Action needs to be taken NOW to reverse the loss.

The more scholarships we give to excellent students, the better for the nation's economic future.

In fact, we should count it as a blessing if we do have such excellent students in the country. The economy cannot run in top gear without talent.

Wake up Malaysia.

No comments:

Post a Comment