By TOH YIN LI
IN the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) rankings in 2012, Malaysia placed at number 52 out of 65 countries. It was also well below the average marks when assessed for proficiency in Reading,
Mathematics and Science for students aged 15.
With Malaysia’s seemingly under-performing education system – and its universities deemed uncompetitive by international standards – it’s no surprise that some Malaysians seek education from other parts of the world, thus creating a pressing issue for our country, a brain drain.
I believe there are mainly two parts to this problem, the first being the retention rate of Malaysian workers in employment, especially among female workers. I think Malaysian women tend to leave the workforce to raise their families and do not return to work unlike their counterparts from developed countries.
The other reason, I believe, lies in Malaysian students who study abroad and choose to work there and not return home.
Is the grass on the other side of the world greener? Possibly, for some people. Highly educated Malaysians claim they can monetise their skills in developed countries and that there are greater challenges in workplaces there, which help them develop their talents and grow professionally.
There are over 50,000 Malaysians currently studying abroad, and I don’t know how many will come home. Within my circle of friends studying overseas, I certainly know the majority of them will prefer to stay on and work abroad if they manage to secure a job offer – simply because they think there are better job prospects abroad than at home.
They say local companies tend not to take soft skills into consideration when hiring, focusing a lot on technical skills instead.
On their part, Malaysian leaders often say they would like Malaysians to return home after completing their studies abroad. But in order for them to consider doing this, there has to be a systematic reform that will ensure everyone is judged based on merit. That is when I think this problem can be solved.
However, I don’t think the government should take all the blame for the brain drain either.
Malaysians abroad should stop being complacent. Yes, there are merits to working abroad, but I also believe there is a wide scope and an abundance of opportunities for improvement in our country. Think about how it would be for the future generations if everyone just left the country?
No matter how far we go, I feel home should always be where the heart is. I certainly feel my heart lies with Malaysia, and I will return there after I complete my studies in Britain to be a part of the solution to the problems facing our country.
To my fellow Malaysians abroad, what say you?