Why must the US go recruiting everywhere in the world if they have the best training institutions?
May 22, 2002
Letters on education
I can agree with the argument in your guest editorial of Friday, May 17, that it would be near impossible to calculate compensation for the loss of our teachers and nurses to the United States of America. After all, how does one go about estimating in money terms the loss of teachers, for example, who had been patiently trained over two gruelling years, and who had developed varying degrees of experience in subsequent active service in the classroom.
So you see, editor, I agree, even though your guest editorial writer and I must end our consensus at that stage. We differ on the subject of retaining. Since these high-tech, big- talking Americans must have to retrain our nurses, they would necessarily have some trouble getting them to unlearn the outdated theories that they had picked up in our classrooms and hospitals.
But why bother? Let them find candidates in their own backyard, who will only have to start from zero, rather than having to move backwards and then pick up their modern principles. Or they can recruit among our unemployed, untrained school-leavers, whom they can train in the way that they would best wish to satisfy that American demand for excellence. But even so, don't they have untrained, unemployed school-leavers too? Who the devil are they trying to deceive? They obviously want our trained people in a hurry - and free!
Why is it, however, that the USA must go recruiting everywhere in the world, if they really have the best training institutions? They want to say that they have the best tennis players, acrobats, figure skaters, footballers, and now, nurses and teachers. Then why should they not compensate those countries from which they poach such skills that succeed in generating such an envious (not covetous, surely) sparkle in their eyes? After all, those countries will subsequently have to train replacements, and that takes both time and cash - the latter of which, those nations certainly do not possess in the generous degree that the USA does. What is more, the schools and hospitals will be tremendously under-staffed in the interim. Is your editorial guest writer's suggestion that it does not matter that our institutions will be thus deprived? Oh, so the Americans need them more than we do!
Another thing that bothers me, Editor, is that someone in the United States who wishes to be trained as a teacher or as a nurse, must certainly pay for that training. Such a person must work in the day and attend that training at night, or something like that, if he/she needs to, in order to meet those payments, as well as personal maintenance costs. Here, on the contrary, those trainees are instructed at the expense of the tax-payers, and receive a stipend in the process. It may not be much, but it is perhaps as much as our coffers could afford.
I make no excuses for the current government; there is already a perception that they find ways and means of offering salaries to selected contracted staff, and that there is rampant discrimination and corruption which inhibits the fair distribution of benefits. But that is something for another discussion. It does not, anyway, change the picture on the subject of the need for compensation, if the Americans need our trained people.
Maybe, we need to improve our collection of Inland Revenue, and to spread the tax net, so that all those who now enjoy a free ride, pay their due share. We might then be better able to reward our public employees. But we must face the fact that, whatever we do, we cannot ever compete with the Americans. On the other hand, we can do something about their bare-faced poaching, when in fact, they have more than adequate training facilities, as well as the human material in millions, to supply that need. It is strange indeed, that a Guyanese can think that our trained workers must be lured like this, openly and unabashedly, and that we must do nothing about it. In fact, I see a bit of disloyalty in that editorial. It is time that we stand alongside our Tommy Rhodes and declare where we are. I, for sure, am proud to be a Guyanese.
Walter A. Jordan