REFLECTIONS BY THE COMMANDER IN CHIEF
THE BRAIN DRAIN
I mentioned something and included a quotation on this topic for an example I used in my last reflection, titled "Bush, Health and Education", which I dedicated to children. In this reflection, aimed at the first class to graduate from the University of Information Sciences (UCI), I shall delve more deeply into this thorny issue.
These graduates were the pioneers, from whom I learned much about the intelligence and the values our young people can cultivate when they study assiduously. I also learned much from the excellent staff of professors, a great many of whom had studied at the José Antonio Echevarría University Complex (CUJAE).
Neither can I avoid to mention the example of the social workers, whose organizational skills and spirit of sacrifice enriched my knowledge and afforded me new experiences, nor the thousands of educators who graduated recently, who made the goal of having one teacher for every 15 students, in the seventh, eighth and ninth grades of our junior high schools a reality. All of them began their university studies almost simultaneously, infused with the ideas which were born and were applied in the battle to have a 6 year old child who had been kidnapped returned to his family and homeland, a child for whom we were willing to give our all.
In two days, 1,334 computer sciences engineers from around the country, whose exemplary conduct and knowledge earned them university scholarships, shall graduate from UCI. Of these, 1,134 have been assigned to different ministries, which provide important services to our people, and to state agencies which manage crucial economic resources. A centralized reserve of 200 young and carefully selected graduates, which shall grow larger every year, awaits different assignments. This reserve is made up of graduates from all of the country's provinces who shall stay lodged at UCI residences. A total of 56 percent are males and 44 percent females.
UCI opens its doors to young people
Our world order appears to have been designed to foster the egoism, individualism and dehumanization of humanity.
A Reuters press dispatch published
on May 3, 2006, titled “African brain drain deprives Africa of vital talent”,
reports that, in Africa, "it is estimated that some 20,000 skilled
professionals are leaving the continent every year, depriving
Quoting a report from the World Bank,
the dispatch reports that, "stymied by conflict, poverty, lethal diseases
and corruption, much of
“Brain drain deals a double blow to weak economies, which not only lose their best human resources and the money spent training them, but then have to pay an estimated $5.6 billion a year to employ expatriates”.
The phrase “brain drain” was coined
in the 1960s, when the
A World Bank report titled "International migration, remittances and the brain drain", made public in October 2005, yielded the following results:
In the last 40 years, more than 1.2 million
professionals from Latin America and the Caribbean have emigrated to the
Of the 150 million people around the world involved in science and technology activities, 90 percent is concentrated in the seven most industrialized nations.
A number of countries, particularly
small nations in Africa, the Caribbean and
More than 70 percent of software
programmers employed by the US Company Microsoft Corporation are from
The intense migratory movements, from Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union towards Western Europe and North America, which began following the collapse of the socialist block, are worthy of special mention.
The International Labor Organization (ILO) points out that the number of scientists and engineers who abandon their native countries and emigrate to industrialized nations is about one third of the number of those who stay in their native countries, something which significantly depletes indispensable human resource reserves.
The ILO report maintains that the
migration of students is a precursor of the brain drain. The Organization for
Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) reported that, at the beginning of
the new millennium, a bit more than 1.5 million foreign students pursued higher
studies in member states and that, of these, more than half were from non-OECD
countries. Of this total, nearly half a million studied in the
Between 1960 and 1990, the
These figures are but a pale reflection of the tragedy.
In recent years, encouraging this type of emigration has become an official state policy in a number of North countries, which use incentives and procedures especially tailored to suit this end.
The American Competitiveness in the
21st Century Act —approved by the US Congress in 2000— increased the
temporary work visa (H-1B) allotment, from 65 thousand to 115 thousand in the
2000 fiscal year and then to 195 thousand for fiscal years 2001 through 2003.
The aim of this increase in the visa cap was to encourage the entry into the
Similar measures were promulgated by
In nearly all cases, the selection
criteria are based on the worker's high qualifications, language proficiency,
age, work experience and professional achievements. The
This relentless plundering of brains in South countries dismantles and weakens programs aimed at training human capital, a resource which is needed to rise from the depths of underdevelopment. It is not limited to the transfer of capital; it also entails the import of grey matter, which nips a country's nascent intelligence and future at the bud.
Between 1959 and 2004,
However, not even the elite of
immigrant workers enjoy work conditions and salaries like those of US
nationals. In order to avoid the complicated paperwork which
The trend towards the privatization of knowledge and the internalization of scientific research companies subordinated to big capital has been creating a kind of "scientific apartheid" which affects the vast majority of the world's population.
That future is already upon us. The so-called new economy mobilizes immense capital flows each year. According to a 2006 report published by Digital Planet, a World Information Technology and Services Alliance (WITSA) publication, the global Information and Communications Technology (ICT) market accounted for three trillion US dollars in 2006.
More and more people have access to the Internet each day —in July 9, 2007, the figure was almost 1.4 billion users. However, in many countries, including numerous developed ones, the people with no access to this service continue to be the majority. The digital gap spells dramatic differences, whereby part of humanity, fortunate and connected, has more information at its disposal than any generation before it ever had.
To have an idea of what this means,
suffice it two compare two realities: while more than 70 percent of the
population of the
The underprivileged situation our group of countries faces within these global information networks, the Internet and all modern means used to transfer information and images must urgently be addressed.
A society in which millions of human beings are considered superfluous, the brain drain of South countries constitutes a common practice and economic power and new technologies are wielded by only a handful of nations cannot be called human, not by a long shot. Overcoming this dilemma is as important for the destiny of humanity as mitigating the climate change crisis which scourges the planet, two problems which are completely interrelated.
To conclude, I need only add:
Whoever has a computer has all published knowledge at their disposal and the privileged memory of the machine belongs to them too.
Ideas are born of knowledge and ethical values. An important part of the problem would be technologically solved, another must be cultivated restlessly. Otherwise, the most basic instincts shall prevail.
The task ahead of UCI graduates is grandiose. I hope you are able to fulfill it. I am confident that you will.
Fidel Castro Ruz
July 17, 2007