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Impact of brain drain on Sri Lanka

Developing countries’ resources drain to developed countries:

Brain drain can be identified as a significant feature which can be seen in developing countries. It is an important pattern of international human migration. Brain drain refers to ‘Migration of the highly skilled professionals to the foreign countries in search of better opportunities’.

In modern world large number of intellectuals leave their native lands and settle in the developed countries. Brain drain can occur either when individuals who study abroad and complete their education do not return to their home country, or when individuals are educated in their home country emigrate for higher wages or better opportunities. The second form is obviously worse because it drains more resources from the home country.

From the inception of the human civilization people migrated from one place to another and it caused to the emergence and the collapse of the civilizations. But migration patterns such as brain drain is not simple as far as the social impacts of such problems are concerned and it has become a critical issue which cannot be sustained further for developing countries such as Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka can be identified as store of intelligence among third world countries, comprise of educated people with high level of knowledge and competencies. Brain drain which was started in 1960s has been consistency taking place until today, and the rate has been proportionately increased from considerable percentage at present.

Although there was a big talk in Sri Lankan society about the migration of the intellectuals before 1977, this situation was changed by the open economy. With the introduction of the open economy policy, lots of Sri Lankans get opportunities for foreign employment.

Therefore massive amount of people with law literacy rates migrated to the foreign countries, specially to the Middle East. Therefore labour migration was the significant feature and attention of the entire society was on this new trend. So the problem of brain drain was exceeded by the newly emerged concept of labour migration. Nevertheless the problem of the migration of intellectuals was gradually improving. Today lots of Sri Lankan intellectuals migrate to the countries like United States, Australia, Canada, United Kingdom and New Zealand.

Evolution

When Sri Lanka gained independence in 1948 there were adequate number of our own professionals for the essential human services. But in 1950s, Sri Lankan intellectuals started to leave Sri Lanka in search of employment abroad.

The outward of the professionals had progressively increased specially during 1960s and 1970s. In the early years particularly before 1976 the tendency of the professionals was to migrate with their families for employment and to eventually settle down abroad permanently. This trend was controlled by the government through the travel restrictions in 1975.

In July 1983 trials can be mentioned as significant incidents with regard to the brain drain. In 1983 political instability and ethnic disturbance caused large exodus of the intellectuals. During this period large number of Tamil intellectuals who resided in North and North Eastern Province left Sri Lanka and they received refugee status especially in the countries like Canada and United Kingdom. Since then it has been continuing up to now.

Causes

As identified in surveys lots Sri Lankan intellectuals migrate to foreign countries due to many reasons. Most of the intellectuals have migrated due to the inadequate salaries in Sri Lanka. Therefore they were inspired to migrate overseas to earn more money.

Moreover lack of job opportunities in the relevant fields, further education, acquiring better living conditions, prevailing political instability and ethnic conflict are the other factors which affected the migration of the Sri Lankan intellectuals.

Impact

It is not a secret that brain drain creates negative effects on developing countries. Resources of the developing countries drain to developed countries through the brain drain. Considering the situation in Sri Lanka although Sri Lanka is a third world country, Sri Lankan Government has been expending large amounts of money higher education.

Annually government expends money for maintaining the university system and also provides facilities for the students free of charge. Therefore governments’ investment on higher education drains to foreign countries due to brain drain.

Further more migration of the professionals affects the fields of health, education and development. Sri Lankan health sector is largely hit by the brain drain. It can be seen shortages of doctors in Sri Lanka due to their migration. Annually Sri Lanka produced considerable amount of doctors, but lots of them are finding employment abroad. Especially rural hospitals of Sri Lanka haven’t adequate doctors. People in these areas face lots of difficulties due to the absence of the doctors and it directly affect the public health facilities.

Migration of the other intellectuals such as engineers, scientists and experts also affect the development of the country. Science and scientific research play a crucial role in country’s development process. The exodus of trained scientist has affected most research institutes. Impairment of their quality on account of brain drain would have been adversely affected the pace of Sri Lanka’s development since science and technology are the two arms of development.

Government attempts

When we are considering about the brain drain it is important to pay our attention towards the attempts taken by the Sri Lankan Government to minimize the brain drain. The first attempt was obtaining the approval of the Cabinet suggestions to avoid brain drain. It was an important decision that was implemented in the national level. In these Cabinet suggestions following factors should be considered.

* It was decided for Sri Lankan universities to work in collaboration with the foreign universities and with the other institutions.

* Imposed restrictions on foreign travels, providing leave and five years leave for government workers.

* In foreign travels amount of currency that can be consumed was increased.

* Provided opportunities to professional specialists for consultant services.

To be continued

 

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