Com­ing home

Is the grass re­ally greener on the other side of the world? This braT doesn’t think so.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - BRATS - By TOH YIN LI brats@thes­tar.com.my

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?

The writer is a mem­ber of The Star’s BRATs young jour­nal­ist pro­gramme, or­gan­ised by R.AGE. To reg­is­ter for the BRATs 2014 pro­gramme, log on to face­book.com/star­brats.

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