Feature Article of Friday, 22 June 2012

Columnist: Frederick, Anyan

“The Educated Non-immigrant”

When I received my admission letter it stated in addition that “…we are also glad to inform you that you will be offered a loan and scholarship under the quota scheme for students from developing countries to undertake your studies…” The first thing that came to mind was to quiz myself of the intent behind this scheme for students from developing countries. Then at another page I read, “The goal of the Quota Scheme is to give students relevant education that will also benefit their home countries when they return after graduation” At that point, I became cognizant of the essence of the scholarship scheme that, I shall return home after school to help build my developing country, in whatever capacity, I was yet to determine. Now as a student of Health Psychology who doubles as a researcher I believe I can immensely influence lives and fulfil the goal of “…scholarship under the quota scheme for students from developing countries…”
My case is not the first or the last of its kind. Hundreds of people from developing countries get the likes of such funding for their studies. These funding schemes shall be extended to us since we remain “developing” and do not seem to want to develop. However, the goals of such schemes are always downplayed. Abstrusely, those spearheading the superfluity of the significance of such schemes are those who are enrolled, and these people are those I call the “educated non-immigrants” in the case of Africans who study abroad, for whom this brief is targeted…(sarcasm unintended).
In most European countries, cities and places like in Trondheim where I stayed, many of us students wake up at about 2am, go out to distribute newspapers and return home at about 5am, sometimes wearied by the plummeting (-20) weather. This was the only “readily available job” (regardless the long and acute term health implications), followed by washing bowls and plates in hotels. Yet the job, “avis” as fondly referred to is the delight of many who would sometimes snitch on others just to be given a route –on which to distribute newspapers to various homes –forgetting that they have all travelled from afar and as much as one needs the “Norwegian Krone” the other needs it too. Unarguably, one cannot rule out the disposition of financial insecurity (for people from developing countries) and for instance for persons who after returning home at 5am would go to the hotel to work again as dishwashers from 7 pm until midnight.
In Germany I confronted some other people of Africa descent who would readily tell of the predicaments that stare them in the face which have almost become a quandary of their daily lives. The malevolence they suffer from their colleagues, not because their colleagues wish so for them but because of the dire need to survive. In Italy, a man said to me “…so they are, that is the situation…”, I was taken aback so I inquired some more. This man wept with convulsive gasps when he narrated his inability to find a job. I felt deeply saddened, but could not help.
But why would he sob to a son who was only interested in knowing what spur the minds of many Africans who seem to loathe a return home. “If you don’t accept to do it for 5 Euros, your friend will come and tell me to give it to him for 3 Euros” This was the reason why the man sobbed. This was his recent employer’s reply when he queried his promotional status. He worked in a steel company where he was legally entitled to be paid more than 5 Euros an hour. But the situation in Italy was such that once you’re offered employment and a friend gets to know how much you’re paid you stand to lose your job, for your friend may go behind you to your employer and offer to do more than the hours you do to be paid a lesser salary. This was a man who had a good second degree and argued that he should be paid more than what he was offered. However, because his equally “good first and second degreed” friends would go behind each other, this has rendered him (and some others) unable to secure a continuous one year job, and as a result has accepted to work for the “less salary” which he finds incommensurate to his status as a second degree holder.
The above are realistic and true stories which only serve to provoke thoughts and provide avenue to channel introspective debates. Shall we or not rise to the occasion and dream to build our “developing country while we stay away in other developed countries where our skills and creativity are superfluous”?
The developed countries apparently don’t need more of African Physicists, Chemists, Psychologists, Engineers, etc. They already have enough, hence it would be a misplaced goal to think that after your studies abroad you’d stay and not return home, while you work in an area where your knowledge and skills are irrelevant. Not only are your knowledge and skills irrelevant but also, you’re less remunerated.
China, India and Malaysia just to mention a few all started from somewhere but these countries wouldn’t have gotten to where they are now, if their “educated non-immigrants” refused to return home to contribute to the developmental processes in their home country.
After all, if you want to return when the country is developed then you might as well stay wherever you are since you would have no use of the skills and knowledge for students from developing countries for which you were admitted to pursue (emphasis on the target population of this present brief). There are hundreds of “educated non-immigrants” albeit the few who immediately return home to their developing country and judiciously realise the essence of their studies abroad.
The underdevelopment in Africa as always described by the BBC’s and CNN’s shall forever remain if we fail to influence our countries with the knowledge, skills and education we’ve received abroad. As intellectuals we should not sit unconcerned about the development of Africa and our respective countries, because the earlier we realise the need to return home to develop our country the earlier we shall also enjoy the fruits of our own developed countries where we shall live comfortably and peacefully and be remunerated satisfactorily and also without working as newspaper distributors or dish washers with a second degree, and looking on our shoulders to see who is coming.