17 June 2012

Tanzania: Lack of Career Guidance to Blame for Brain Wastage

BRAIN circulation or wastage is currently hitting hard on the nation as many graduates find no jobs in the market. But they find opportunities to transform their lives through pursuing other professional openings, while creating a vacuum in their fields of specialisation.

Some critics argue that the situation will get worse if the government does not take measures to restore the wage policy. Prof Humphrey Moshi of Department of Economics at the University of Dar es Salaam says that the wage policy will help to narrow the gap between the professions.

"If someone realizes that the Bank of Tanzania posts have almost the same wage as that one paid in his career, this will curb brain circulation," he says in reacting to the issue of brain wastage in the country. Brain circulation is a concept that is posited as a counter-factual to the idea of brain-drain.

Professor Moshi says that the impact of brain circulation to the economy is not as bad as brain-drain which reaps the country of many intellectuals and experts. "But it also affects the country in terms of developing her specialists. For example, such professionals once they cross to another field they create deficiency in the area of their study, which leads to inefficiency in the specific sector," he says.

He explains that part of the problem on brain wastage is the abolition of technical schools which used to produce technicians.

In Tanzania you can find many people with degrees in engineering but no technicians, which means that this creates a shortage too and that becomes brain wastage to deploy engineers as technicians. He cites that there is a growing concern on the number of teachers who graduated but abandoned their profession.

An engineer in a local company said that in some cases because jobs were scarce some engineers resort to work as technicians. "It means that these people will never grow in their profession," he said. He also said that the issue of wage disparity has to be addressed if the country is to make great achievement in terms of professionalism. But students in various universities in the country said that the question of intellectual gratification does not weigh in their studies anymore.

"I was shocked after completing the university, only to find that there were no opportunities in what I had specialized in," Henry John who recently graduated from Ardhi University in Dar es Salaam said. Mr Amani Kundaeli Maro is a graduate in Animal Husbandry at Morogoro-based Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA) in 2006. He says brain wastage in Tanzania is real and attributes the situation to lack of both professional guidance and mentoring.

"For a long time, the government has banked on blanket sponsorship for university students without telling them on what they should expect from the studies they were about to undertake. Graduates realise that the market forces do not match with the cost of living and time spent in studies at the university," he says, referring to his own experience where he studied Science but ended up as project evaluation specialist.

A Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) specialist at the Arusha-based Lands and Lakes International Development, Mr Maro says, for example, over 30 per cent of the 46 graduates in Animal Husbandry at SUA in 2006 found jobs in banks and project

management. He says the government needs to rectify the situation so that trained specialists benefit the country.

He said the pay in the market for degrees such as architecture, wildlife; veterinary is in the range of 280,000/- which is meagre to sustain life after spending about six years at the university. "Imagine one spends six years in training and only to receive a salary of 280,000/-. That is just a peanut enough for the transport cost," he said. Experts in philosophy observe that there was lack of planning in terms of allocating human resources.

Dr Nassor Masoud, is the Ag Coordinator in Philosophy Unit at the University of Dar es Salaam. According to him, there is no identification of specialization structures in various sectors. He said the problem is more pronounced in the economic, political and health sectors. "Both misplacement of specialists and lack of specialists either through braindrain or brain wastage can be devastating to the economy," he said in an interview with the 'Daily News on Saturday'.

He also said that one is tempted to take a low profile job even when he is over qualified because of the remunerations. Another factor which brings brain circulation or wastage is that real value of the expert is not accorded. For example, private hospitals pay their doctors five times than what is paid to the government doctors.

The philosopher said that it was time for the government to reevaluate itself in terms of building its education institutions on the Philosophy foundation as the foundation of all education systems around the world, but it had taken a back seat in the country. He further said that through philosophy the nation could strike the balance between intellectual gratification and financial gain.

Dr Masoud explained that philosophy was a catalyst for inculcation of morale, patriotism and nationalism which helps to make the youth loyal to their country. "It does not mean that they will not need the basic requirements but help to appreciate the significance of serving their nation with a little bit of sacrifice," he said.

He said: "As a nation we need to impart the idea of ethics and morality to our youths to create a society with morals." A member of the International Platform for Young People to Explore and Develop their Leadership Potential (AIESEC), Mr Emmanuel Mwilenga, who is also a student at Ardhi University, said that students have embarked on career development programmes using local financiers as well as foreign support. However, the Minister for Labour and Employment, Ms Gaudensia Kabaka, says the government is on its way to establish a labour market information system to establish the magnitude of the problem.

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