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Dhaka Tribune

Losing our best minds

How can Bangladesh tackle brain drain?

Update : 23 Sep 2022, 02:02 AM

The departure of educated and professional people from one country for another is called brain drain. They usually do it to pursue better pay or living conditions. 

According to the World Bank’s stats of 2021, Bangladesh has a value of 7.00 on a scale of 10.00, making us part of the top 20% for the indicator “Human Flight and Brain Drain.” Among the 173 countries, Bangladesh was placed in the 31st position.

The concept of brain drain is not new to developing countries. Normally, highly skilled people from underdeveloped or developing countries migrate to developed countries for quality education, better opportunities, superior platforms, decent social security, proper political stability, or improved living conditions. 

Nowadays, even the more ambitious young generations of a country have a tendency to go abroad for better lives for themselves. For example, according to the International Student Data from Open Doors Report, 8,598 students from Bangladesh entered the United States of America in the 2020/21 academic year solely for education, which is almost triple the number for the 2010/11 academic year. 

Because of the pandemic, this rate slowed down a bit otherwise the number could have been even higher than it is now. This phenomenon supports the findings of a World Economic Forum (WEF) study which found that most youths aged between 15 to 29 years would prefer to migrate abroad if they had the chance. 

So as a society if we do not do something to slow down brain drain, then we will lose the cream of our workforce to foreign countries.

In Bangladesh, many may think that these migrated Bangladeshis are sending foreign remittances which is helping us to build our economy. However, they fail to realize at what cost we are gaining this remittance. It is not very hard to visualize the big picture here as these brilliant people are utilizing their talent for the betterment of a foreign country -- on the other hand, we are getting some monetary benefits which are quite temporary. 

Once these individuals take their close relatives to their respective foreign countries, they will stop sending the monetary benefits also. So we will lose both the foreign currencies and capable brains in the long run. 

Already, we are starting to see the repercussions as the number of foreign investors appears to be in decline over the years. According to World Bank data, in 2020, foreign direct investment (FDI) was $1.5 billion in 2020, which was $2.83bn in 2015. No one can ignore this alarming reduction. 

Because of brain drain, we are losing our best workers and best minds which results in so many other negative impacts. This is particularly problematic at a time of rapid development for a country like Bangladesh. Therefore, this is a high time to take effective initiatives to address this dire issue.

There are no shortcuts to reduce the surge of migration of quality people; it is not an issue that can be solved by one solution or a person or an organization. 

Creating barriers or imposing restrictions should not be the approach to tackle this issue. Consequently, as a society, we have to come together to create an enabling environment for these skillful people so that they can properly exercise their potential and don’t have to travel to a different country to get the opportunity to shine. 

In order to do that, we have to ensure the following things with the support from government and private entities: 

  • Creating quality learning and job opportunities 
  • Safeguarding law and order 
  • Promoting equality in every aspect of life 
  • Reducing corruption and unjust practices in every sector 
  • Ensuring a stable political environment
  • Ensuring security 
  • Providing support and incentives for high-potential individuals 
  • Nurturing an environment for entrepreneurs and small business owners 
  • Building a strong sense of national identity

During the time when we are heavily focused on national development, we should not be waving goodbyes to our meritorious people at the airports. We have to make sure to use their talents in the development process of our beloved country. 

This is an issue that we must address to ensure the sustainable growth of our country and the prosperous future for all the people in the community.


Noshin Anjum Mumu is a freelance contributor.

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