There are so many key (as well as interesting) points made in this Paa Kwesi's article, titled "Brain drain, language and standing afar". (Please check it out because it's a really cool article). However, i wish to respond to a couple that i somehow disagree with.
In the article, Paa Kwesi argues (if i may not have misunderstood) that the teaching of English in schools has made it easier for Ghanaians with specialized knowledge (even including those trained solely in Ghana) to seek rewards for their knowledge outside the borders of Ghana. Hence, he stresses the need to train Ghanaian scholars in indigenous languages as an effective solution to brain drain. I have two main concerns about Paa Kwesi's suggested attack towards brain drain:
The first is "would that work?" Well, there is a well-known Akan proverb that could be literally translated as "Look at sleep if you don't know death." Fortunately, natural experiments could help us analyze the plausible success of an English-free Ghana. Mexico is a country where english is not as strongly emphasized as in the Caribbean (or in Canada). Yet, Mexicans (both high skill and low skill) migrate to US more than the rate at which say Canadians (or Carribeans) migrate to the US. Thus, one could argue that the movement of human kapital from one country to another could be more explained by rather the difference in economic incentives between the two countries (Language barriers play a very little role). In this light, training Ghanaians in Akan, for instance, might not effectively prevent diffusion of the human kapital of Ghana to the western worlds.
Secondly, even if, for a minute, we assume creating this language barrier would help fight brain drain, Ghana might shoot herself in the foot pursuing such a policy. Though I strongly support programs that seek to promote, preserve and strengthen deep cultural heritage and identity, completely abstracting ourselves (linguistically), (being a small economy and thus affected by world factors) might hurt us more than help us. I think itâ€™s a good advantage to Ghana that most of her students are able to study abroad due to their knowledge of the English language. In the very least, this means Ghana has a reservoir of specialized labor that she can use if the need arises. However, as Paa Kwesi noted, it might not be beneficial to Ghana if these specialized skills donâ€™t come back home to contribute to the development of Ghana, especially when Ghana has created the need for their services (Please see â€œIs it Brain Drain or Brain waste that perturbs Ghanaâ€ for what I mean by creating the need for their services).
Before Ghana even attempts to curb brain drain, we should ask ourselves â€œIs that electrical engineer who currently graduated from KNUST employed?â€ If we canâ€™t answer yes to this question, why would there be the need to request for extra specialized labor which are fortunately yielding positive returns (unfortunately, though, on non-Ghanaian soil). Ghana, therefore, needs to create a conducive environment for the absorption of both locally- and foreign- trained labor. (We could create this seemingly idealistic environment with my, your and our thoughts).Of course, Ghanaâ€™s progress is as deep as thoughts â€¦ Ghana, letâ€™s think!
There are numerous reasons why i personally think the Ghanaian government should take the first move in curbing brain-drain. Brain-drain is a classic case of a market failure called Externality (in Economics). Externality, simply explained, is just the phenomenon that people are self-interested and hence cares not about the effects (good or bad) of their actions on society. Kwame cares only about the benefits he (and not society) would get when he returns home. With little thought, one could see that the reason behind the reluctance of people to return home is no different from why inhabitants of a town might reluctantly contribute towards a street light project in the neighborhood. Thus, just as government intervention is key in solving most market failures, brain-drain could effectively be solved mainly by the government (individual effort might not be very effective). More on this later on.