Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Pondering about sunam snails.....

Recently, I had a student send me a questionnaire for a research paper concerning Manusians and the perception of 'Brain Drain'. The following are my response to the question.

1.      When was the last time you went home to Manus? December 2011

2.      Do you think Brain Drain is a serious issue for Manus? Yes/No (Explain)
It would have been really good if you could have given a definition of the term Brain Drain here in this questionnaire. But it is okay, i will try to answer it as best as i can. To me, the definition of brain drain is to loose qualified, competent, skillful and knowledgeable people to another place, setting or environment. From this definition here, I would say that yes it is a problem and a serious issue. Firstly, competent and qualified manusians can make a serious endeaviour to build Manus in terms of infrastructure, community leadership, environment and conservation, education and health. When we loose people like this to other provinces, they gain and our provinces misses out.So yes it is a serious problem in for our province.

3.      What is your perception about Brain Gain, Brain Exchange, Brain Drain and Brain Circulation, do you think they contribute to development in Manus? Yes/No (Explain)
Yes of course. People who are qualified and competent are required in Manus to help Manus improve and move forward. We all know that many Manusians hold high profile jobs all over the country and even overseas. To have them back in Manus would be ideal but I believe that this cannot take place.

4.      What do you think the causes of Brain Drain are?
I would say lack of opportunity is the key cause. There are almost very little avenue for highly qualified Manusians in whatever field they are in to come back to manus and do things as they would like. For Manusians coming back to Manus to help Manus grow while they are still in their best years will not happen. For example, a highly qualified mechanical engineer cannot come and work in Manus as the working environment is insufficient to compensate his skills, ability and leadership. He cannot come and work at, for example, a company in Loregnau where the job is concerned with rebuilding, maintenance and engineering of light and heavy vehicles, outboard motor engines maintenance and general multiskilled engineering even if he wants to. Working in a place like Western Australia where the mine is world class and opportunities to learn cutting edge technology is ever present is a place where a young man in his best years will want to work. Besides, his qualification, leadership and skills are compensated richly compared to if he was working in Manus.The opportunity to do something unique is much more appealing unlike the situation in Manus.
The second cause is the desire to have a better living standard especially for families. Manusians who become qualified and then have jobs, want a better life for their families. When i mean better living standard, I mean better primary education, better health care, efficient law and courts, wider access to good and services – all things that are lacking in quality in Manus right now. Many manusians want better living standards for their families and when they can afford to have these standards, they will continue to have them in other provinces especially in the urban settings of Port Moresby. Manus doest have the economy to support these so called ‘better living standards’ so people who want to have them, move over to where it is thus leaving Manus. For example, a Manusian who becomes a aircraft engineer will move to Australia and become a permanent resident as he believes that his family will benefit directly from services in that country- a visit to Manus is solely for family events   

5.      Do you in one way or the other support family members back at home?

6.      Manus Province alone receives more remittance compared to any other province in PNG. If there is so much money circulated in the provincial economy, how can you describe the basic infrastructure and other development in the province?
I dont think that we should just assume that because there is money sent through remittances, that there will be improved infrastructure. I think there is a difference between personal remittance and basic infrastructure. I think we cannot say that because we have sent more money home, it means there is more money and this equates to improved infrastructure. I think the money that is sent home is spent on personal/ basic goods and services like food, fuel and clothing but more importantly, Manusians themselves are great savers of money. A villager will act as if they have no money but in reality, that person will save a large amount of money in keep it safe in box, in a tin or under the mattress. Only when there is a ‘custom wok’ then the money will come out. Again this money is spent on goods and services and nothing from personal remittances gets spent on infrastructure like roads and bridges. Unless the provincial government sets a specific policy or law that deducts percentages from remittances to specifically build infrastructure in the provinces then surely high remittances will equate to the type of high value infrastructure we could have in the province.

7.      Do you think we can solve the issue of Brain Drain? Yes/No? (Explain)

At the moment, i dont think we can. Maybe in the future when the economy grows because of a mine, fisheries or tourism and the local economy grew, then Iam very sure that many Manusians would want to go back home. I also think that to solve brain drain is a myth. I mean brain drain is phenomenon that will always happen to other provinces in this country other regions of the world too. Africa has doctors who leave their country to go and practice in Europe and nurses is Australia now want to work in Europe – all because of the strength of the euro currency – again a desire for a better living standard and opportunity to practice.

8.      Ho would you best categorise yourself, a product of Brain Drain, Brain Gain, Brain Exchange or Brain Circulation?
I do not know what these terms means but i will say that Iam living in Madang and working here whereas I could be useful working and living in Manus. My province and family looses out because Iam giving my services, time and effort towards my employer's dreams and vision.