Critical Analysis of Immigration and Migrant Workers
For many years, migration, perpetrated by the quest for career advancement by skilled labour, asylum seeking by refugees and interest in greener pastures has been going on internationally. Some countries have faced challenges and setbacks due to international migration of skilled labour/personnel and some have gained significantly by being recipients of such personnel. This essay will seek to address the issue of teacher migration/exodus in Zimbabwe. Human Capital Theory in conjunction with the theoretical perspective of Globalisation will be used to analyse this issue in the aforesaid country.
Zimbabwe is a landlocked country located in the Southern part of the African continent. Its neighbouring boarder countries are South Africa, Botswana, Zambia and Mozambique and it is a former British colony. For the past decade it has been going through a challenging political climate characterised by violence, poor economy, introduction and an ongoing land reform programme which was poorly implemented and resulted in the country going downhill as agriculture was one of their main foreign currency earners and attracted the imposition of economic sanctions.HIV and AIDS is also prevalent in Zimbabwe. According to the preliminary results of the 2002 census, Zimbabwe has a population of 11.6 million against a projected figure of 14.7 million. This would mean that the estimated number of Zimbabweans in the Diaspora is 3.1 million which was worked at the assumptions that, mortality had remained at the 1990 level, fertility had declined and there had been a negligible international emigration. Zimbabwe uses the neighbouring South Africa’s Rand and the US dollar as its main currency. Its education system consists of 8 years of primary education and 6 years of high school before a student can be admitted to university. The wealthier population normally send their children to private schools which follow the Cambridge exams curriculum and the others send theirs to government run schools which use the national curriculum. In 1980, education was declared free and for all, but since 1988 the government introduced and gradually increased charges attached to school enrolment. Zimbabwe has eleven universities that are internationally accredited that serve the whole nation and 8 teacher’s colleges.
Each year Zimbabwe loses thousands of skilled professionals crucial to the development needs of the country. They migrate mainly to South Africa, Botswana, UK, Australia, and USA. Crush et al (2005) assert that Zimbabwe is experiencing a crippling flight of professionals and skilled people that has escalated to levels that have serious implications for growth and development. Included in this list of professionals are teachers, who play a pivotal role in the continuity of the learning and education process.
Chetsanga (2003) argues that, it is difficult to properly determine the accurate statistics of the Zimbabweans that have migrated as the plight of teachers in particular dates far back to year 1998, with teachers going on strike because of low pay. Teachers were also one of the main targets of political attacks then, as the ruling party accused them of supporting the opposition party. Between 2000 and 2002 the Ministry of Education recorded a high influx of teacher resignations and absconding, with teachers migrating to other countries, mainly United Kingdom and South Africa to claim asylum, fleeing from political violence, and some moving to other departments.The study he did established only 479348 Zimbabweans in the Diaspora (including teachers) and is aware that a large number is not accounted for in that figure. He says, of that figure, most hold Bachelor’s degrees, followed by polytechnic graduates, 20% hold Masters Degrees, while 5% hold PhDs. He says the health and teaching personnel account for more than 75% of that figure. Chanda,cited in Chetsanga (2003) explains Zimbabwe’s teacher exodus from another dimension, where she describes it as, the concept of ‘survival migration’ which focuses on the situation of people who are outside their country of origin because of an existential threat to which they have no access to a domestic remedy but who fall outside of the dominant interpretation of a ‘refugee’ under international law. He says, it focuses on people who cross borders fleeing some combination of, environmental disaster, livelihoods failure, and state fragility.
Chetsanga (2003) conquers that the reasons why teachers are leaving Zimbabwe appear to be diverse ranging from professional, political to economical. Crush et al (2005) also say, the teachers unhappiness goes deeper than economic circumstances, to include, housing, medical services, education and a viable future for their children. The number of people living below the poverty datum line has surged in the past three years because of economic crisis and spiralling of inflation. Over 75% of Zimbabweans are now classified as poor, while 50% are living in abject poverty. As of December 2002 the unemployment rate was between 75% and 80% and has even got worse. All civil servant salaries are uniform in Zimbabwe at present regardless of experience, education background, geographical location, or genders and they are pegged at US190 (?126) a month against a high cost of living that needs at least US510 (?340) a month to meet the poverty datum line.
Around one in ten of the population live with HIV, Zimbabwe is experiencing one of the harshest AIDS epidemics in the world. In a country with such a tense political and social climate, it has been difficult to respond to the crisis. President Robert Mugabe and his government have been widely criticised by the international community, and Zimbabwe has become increasingly isolated, both politically and economically. The country has had to confront a number of severe crises in the past few years, including an unprecedented rise in inflation which reached 100,000% in January 2008, a severe cholera epidemic, high rates of unemployment, political violence, and a near-total collapse of the health system. The situation in Zimbabwe got so bad that between 2002 and 2006, the population decreased and Infant mortality has doubled since 1990.Average life expectancy for women, who are particularly affected by Zimbabwe’s AIDS epidemic, is 47 and 40 for men. Zimbabwe has a higher number of orphans, in proportion to its population, than any other country in the world, according to UNICEF. In fact, as many as 1 in 4 children in Zimbabwe are orphaned as a result of parents dying from AIDS. Teachers are relied on to counsel their students about Aids, but statistics indicate they are no more knowledgeable about avoiding infection than other Zimbabwean adults. Teachers are at high risk of getting infected with HIV and Aids, and already one-third of them are likely to be infected with the virus. According to a report presented by a state-appointed education assessment team, the rate among teachers mirrors Health Ministry statistics showing that an estimated 27% of Zimbabweans aged 18-49 are infected with HIV, with at least 3 000 deaths a week. The teacher migration adds to the depletion from the AIDS affected population, worsening the already depleted labour force.
Through migration, Zimbabwe is losing the value of its investment in education because a large number of highly trained Zimbabweans who include teachers have left the country. Efforts in trying to reach out to Zimbabwe with specific skills through improved educational opportunities may go to a waste unless measures are taken to offset the pull factors attracting the highly educated Zimbabweans to other countries. If the Zimbabwean government does not do anything by making staying at home attractive it will continue to lose its highly skilled personnel to other countries and the brain drain unabated because the brain drain in Zimbabwe is based on the global phenomenon associated with man’s quest for better opportunities in life. De Villers (2004) says, the trend and high magnitude of the brain drain cripples the country’s capacity to engage in sustainable development and it is a well established fact that knowledge is the most important instrument in the creation and accumulation of wealth and the primary factor in international competitiveness. Therefore Zimbabwe’s migration of the skilled and knowledgeable personnel has had and is continuing to have a clear negative impact on the country’s development system as evidenced by its inflation rate, HIV and AIDS statistics, exclusion from major international dealings, and poor education and health systems.
The aforesaid teacher migration/exodus challenge faced by Zimbabwe can be analysed using the Human Capital Theory (HCT) in ascertaining Zimbabwe’s position in the global world, marrying it with the theoretical perspective of Globalisation.
The Human Capital Theory (HCT) is a model that is widely used in the economic analysis of education worldwide. It is used as a background assumption in many areas of economics like in the theory of economic growth. HCT is commonly linked with education and thus theorists in human capital tend to marry the two and view education as investment in human capital. The concept of HCT boarders around that the economic growth, prosperity and function of a nation mainly depends on its physical and human capital stock. The investment people make on their individual selves education wise enhances the productivity of the economy and that is what human capital theorists endeavour to point out.
The human capital theorists emphasise on the rate of returns to education. They argue that, educate yourself and the returns to education will be higher, hence uplifting you as an individual and you uplifting your nation, the returns are both economic,(for example-the more you invest in years of schooling, the better pay you are likely to earn),and non economic (eg-acquired knowledge through education may help you to understand and deal with issues better, like HIV and AIDS).Kingdon and Theopold (2008) emphasise that, similar to this, returns to education may be private (accruing to the educated individual) or maybe social (benefiting the individual and their community).She however does not dispute that, the returns might be influenced by the level of education that one has acquired, type of education, education institution attended, field of study and other things, hence even some universities tend to charge more for other courses compared to others, simply because of their estimated rate of return. Psacharopoulos and Woodhall (1997) infer that, investment in people education wise is as or more important to economic growth as investing in machinery as education enhances a workers productivity. The screening hypothesis challenges that interpretation of education and argues that, education is only used by employers to screen employees. The screening hypothesis is true to an extent, because for example in the Zimbabwean situation, where the Ministry of Education has reported an influx of teachers in areas like, language teachers compared to maths and science. Only teachers with qualified teacher status specialised in languages are employed, when areas like maths and science recruit even personnel without qualified teacher status to fill in vacant posts. If that requirement was not put in place in the languages department, it would be difficult for recruiters to recruit and this is one of the reasons why some personnel that are capable of teaching in the languages department have migrated.
Robert (1991) asserts that education and the creation of human capital creates the differences in labour productivity and the differences in overall levels of technology that we observe in the world. This meaning that education plays a critical input for innovations, research and development activities, thus being seen as an intentional effort to increase the resources needed for creating new things like technology. In this generation we are living in, a technological nation tends to be better successful as it is advanced and quicker. Psacharopoulos and Woodhall (1997) confirm that, by saying that in East Asia, education has given them their success in economic growth and development. Hong Kong, Singapore, and Taiwan have achieved high rates of economic growth due to their investments in education. In the Zimbabwean context, due to the migration of teachers, areas like technology advancement are so crippled, because the skilled personnel to impact this knowledge to learners is limited.While the problem is not mainly limited to this, skilled personnel migrate as well due to their worry on how their skills might remain stagnant and not match the global need which calls for technological knowledge nowadays. Skilled labour migrates to go and advance their skills in other countries and in a quest to make sure their children and families acquire the best education and skills too. Muchemwa (2009) argues that on this same score, a country like Zimbabwe will be left with insufficient personnel to run its own education systems and shortages in the education sector will impair transfer of skills to the next generation of citizens.
According to Fagerlind and Saha (1997) HCT in both developing and developed countries, just provides a basic justification for large public expenditure on education because if its notion which is derived on the presumed economic return of investment in education both at the macro and micro levels. Individuals then tend to think such investment is worthwhile as it was seen to provide returns in the form of individual economic success and achievement. At a bigger level, efforts put to promote investment in human capital would result in economic growth, that is, ‘educate part of the community and the whole of it benefits’ (Schultz 1971).Morgan et al (2005) argues that in contexts like the Zimbabwean, teacher training is often highly subsidised, which due to migration it technically means that the governments are funding the training of teachers who serve other in other countries, usually developed countries where they can earn a much higher salary, thereby leaving Zimbabwe with little labour to run their affairs. While it may be argued that the Zimbabwean government takes measures like bonding to curb this, to make sure that for example a teacher stays and serve in the country for at least two years before migrating. From personal experience, the measures are not so strictly implemented and the money is affordable to pay back as long as you have migrated to a country that has a valuable currency. I completed my teacher training in Zimbabwe in year 2000 and moved to England a year after that.When I had left the Ministry, my parents who I had assigned as my guarantors during my teacher training, received letters that I was supposed to pay back the government money. I managed to send three hours worth of wages from my cleaning job in England, and it covered the whole debt.
While in general terms human capital theorists argue that an educated population is a productive population, Ayara (2002) reports that it is not the case with countries like Nigeria, Zimbabwe and other African countries who have engaged in too much corruption and have not had the expected positive growth impact on economic growth .He says educational capital has gone into privately remunerate but socially unproductive activities, like fraud, prostitution and many more. In countries like Zimbabwe, the education system is failing due to economic and political instability that has led to the prevalence of corruption. Gaidzanwa (1999) assumes that, the core of a country’s problems and success lies in its government, that is, the choice of its leaders and how they run the affairs of the country. If the migrated emigrants, like teachers and other professionals would be allowed to vote, from their countries of board, their informed and education influenced choices of leaders would contribute to the turnover of the poor economy and its sustainability.
At the individual level, it has become an issue, to what extent education as a form of human investment can be directly related to improvement and income. For example, in the Zimbabwean situation, a non qualified teacher, a post graduate teacher and a qualified teacher with 20years teaching experience are all bracketed under the ‘civil servant pay scale’ and all receive the same salary of US$190 currently. Low pay rates and poor living and working conditions have been the major causes for teacher exodus. This goes on to explain how the HCT’s philosophies are not always the case especially in countries and individuals that are facing challenges. Robert (1991) also conquers that education; from a HCT perspective can create inequalities and social class stratification. Education can in this instance be used as a tool to measure poverty against wealth. The HCT reinforces that, the educated one has a likelihood of a better job, leading to better income, better life and better class.
It can therefore be concluded that while individuals, societies, countries and the world look up to education as a means of a better life and investment in agreement with the HCT. It is not always the case that investing in education can bring the expected returns. There are some external factors that can hinder those expectations like the politics and economy of a given country. On individual basis, things like ill health, discrimination in education systems and poverty which is the case in Zimbabwe, where HIV/AIDS is having a highly negative impact to its human stock together with skilled labour migration.HCT always assumes well functioning economies and employs a, one size fits all approach, paying a blind eye on countries and individuals that are struggling for different reasons.
The framework does not take account of segregated labour markets where people are allocated jobs on the grounds of race, gender or assumptions about class or cost. It should address beyond investment education wise as there are other uneducated personnel with no qualifications, who contribute to the welfare of the nation’s economy and do well as individuals, things like health as well should be incorporated and any form of knowledge deemed appropriate for enhancing economic growth should be incorporated in HCT.
While the government of Zimbabwe has invested a lot in training and educating their teachers who have migrated to other countries, hence leaving the country with a shortage of labour in that field (especially maths and sciences) and a possible, crippling effect on the transfer of skills to the next generation. The theoretical perspective of ‘Globalisation’ will also be used to critique this issue of teacher migration in Zimbabwe, comparing and contrasting it with HCT.
The businessdictionary.com, defines globalisation as, the worldwide movement towards economic, financial, trade, and communications integration. It implies the opening of local and nationalistic perspectives to a broader outlook of an interconnected and interdependent world with free transfer of capital, goods, and services across national frontiers. However, it does not include unhindered movement of labour and, as suggested by some economists, may hurt smaller or fragile economies if applied indiscriminately. Park (2003) asserts that, globalisation, has just been turned into a buzz word in recent times, which has been used even by people who have no understanding of the economic term, which mainly reasons on why commodity flows and divisions occur. He says, globalisation is about creating a set of competencies that enable companies to utilise resources on an optimal basis to meet differentiated customer demand profitably and cost-competitively without regard for geography, which simply means, getting an organisation into a position of doing business in any market it chooses. However Kingdon and Theopold (2008) conclude that there is no single agreed definition of globalisation and there are many ways to summarise the vast literature on this subject. She says that, the forces of globalisation affect the lives of most people all over the world, be it business people or villagers, well paid workers or labourers as well as desperate migrants in transit in the hope of better lives, with the migrating Zimbabwean teachers as an example. She says, globalisation is an often discussed and seldom understood phenomenon, which entails an increase in human activities that cross national boundaries. These may be economic, social, political, technological or biological.
The theory of globalisation together with HCT and teacher migration in this essay will lean a lot on Millennium Development Goal (MDG) number 8,which addresses, the development of global partnership for development, which encourages the further development of an open, rule based, predictable, non discriminatory trading and financial systems. Kingdon and Theopold (2008) have grouped approaches to globalisation into four clusters, that is, world- systems, global culture, global polity and society and global capitalism. She assumes that the approaches to globalisation endeavour to create what is famously called the ‘global village’, where the basic idea is that, the spread of the mass media, especially television and the internet, means everyone can be exposed to the same images at the same time and the ever increasing integration of people in societies around the world has influenced human evolution. While this perspective is acknowledgeable to an extent in the migration of teachers in Zimbabwe, where the use of the internet and media and information passed on by others who have migrated already to those that are still in the country on how to migrate and improve lives has been used, however Khadria (2005) argues that when goals and targets were set for global goals for education, they were more politically than technically determined.
The migration of teachers has been one of the human activities that have been crossing national boundaries for a long time. Appleton (2006)says that, though there has been international movement of educators since the ancient Greeks first tutored the Romans, the advent of globalisation in the 1990’s has seen such migration return to prominence. Like Zimbabwe, some countries have seen net losses of educators and have expressed concerns leading to, for example, things like, introduction of visas, adoption of a protocol of teacher recruitment by the commonwealth in September 2004 to try and put this migration under control. He argues that by 2000,for example in some parts of England, some schools were already relying on the recruitment of overseas teachers to fill in the gaps, with some, teacher supply agencies moving into the market to supply teachers, this however denotes the difference between HCT which emphasises on the nation gaining from their human stock, to the human stock crossing the national boundary to a wider world(global).It can however be concluded that, unlike HCT that emphasises on individual and national gains, Globalisation, embraces both individual, national to the whole global village. It does not limit human capital stock and returns to national level, it reflects that things move away and come back some how.HCT uses, rate of returns to individuals and the nation while globalisation is often interpreted in terms of economic actors and economic institutions.
Khadria (2005) and Grace (2003) agree that, If countries like Zimbabwe would manage its affairs well, the beneficial effects of teacher migration would impact and reflect positively on its economy and even have a multiplier effect on the economy as a whole. They explain that, migrated personnel send part of their earnings home in form of remittances hence providing the home country with a source of valuable foreign currency which is pivotal in trade dealings.(See appendix 1.0). It is estimated that an overseas worker on average can remit home over US$500 per month. Studies have shown that the propensity to save is usually higher among emigrants than local people, in preparation for their possible returns to the home country. Therefore if 35% for example, is sent to Zimbabwe monthly, more than $25billion dollars will be availed to the Zimbabwe economy and through various expenditure mechanisms, government can be able to raise substantial amount of revenue for public coffers. According to the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA), 70% of the cars in the Zimbabwean roads have been shipped from the Diaspora. The taxes paid on the clearance of those cars, if managed properly without corruption can as well provide Zimbabwe with a lot of revenue significant to the country’s economic growth and global trades.
Skeldon (2005) argues that, the emigration of skilled workers is not new but has taken on greater urgency in the context of globalising economy and ageing society. He says the developed world is viewed as poaching the best and brightest from the developing world, thus prejudicing home countries of their chance of development, but he strongly believes that any movement of labour is as much internal within any country as it is among countries and that skilled labour migration should not be seen differently from other types of migration and movement of other goods. Statistics show that not all teachers that moved from the teaching field in Zimbabwe, migrated, some moved to other departments like NGO’s due to attractive salaries, and whilst Zimbabwe, employs some of its personnel like technology engineers from countries like Botswana, or send some of its personnel abroad on government scholarships for training. Zimbabwe should acknowledge that, it as well benefits from other educational global dealings too. It can therefore be argued or speculated that, teacher migration should be viewed as a global necessity, to assist those in need and curb unemployment in countries with excess personnel than poaching skills. The theory of globalisation, does not hinder the fact that, for example, if Zimbabwe gets back on its feet and does well economically, maybe tomorrow or in a decade, if it can attract skilled labour as well, it can attract teachers from other countries too, as was the case in the 80’s where use of expatriate teachers from, Germany, Sweden etc was common.
HCT emphasises on the number of years invested in schooling, yielding better returns. An average qualified secondary teacher in Zimbabwe currently invested 7 years to primary schooling,6 years in high school and 2 years training at a teacher’s college, which equates to 14 years and Zimbabwe considers him/her as their highly skilled labour. When that teacher migrates, for example, to England, he/she cannot qualify for a qualified teacher status, she has to do another 3 years for a PGCE, to meet the local standard, and hence most of these migrated people have had to further their education or do other menial jobs. Skeldon (2005) says the question of who are skilled labours at global level has been raised. What an individual country might view as their skilled labour might not be what the host country perceives. Using the example mentioned above, of teachers who might opt to do the PGCE in England. One can question that, has there been a truly brain drain as the brains have been retrained again in the destination country. This highly denotes an advantage brought about by migration and globalisation. In HCT, highly successful entrepreneurs and businessmen/women are excluded on the basis that some of them do not even have any tertiary education even though they posses skills essential for economic growth, but globalisation accommodates them.
Both HCT and globalisation, though in different ways, agree that education has become a multimillion dollar migrant industry, particularly at global level. Teacher migration has had an effect on quality of teaching in Zimbabwe. Most parents wish that their children could access the quality of education that would make them employable worldwide, with some affording parents sending their children to expensive private colleges(teachers earn higher) that examine children, through the, Cambridge Schools Examination Certificate than the Zimbabwe National Schools Examination Certificate(ZIMSEC) which is not recognised worldwide and used in Government and Council schools(teachers earn very little),so as to prepare them for life in the globalising economy. Some individuals even enrol for expensive online courses with foreign universities. So one can hypothesise that, people opt for certain types of education or training for individual returns or to specifically increase their chances of migration. Though there is no guarantee that these individuals will definitely migrate, this contributes to better educated and trained people for the domestic market as well.
Statistics show that most people who have managed to migrate from Zimbabwe are the skilled and educated, with teachers and health professionals on large numbers, because chances of them making a living in another world are high and they are employable. Skilled personnel are likely to have the knowledge (how to apply for visas, what the host country requires and contacts of already migrated colleagues or relatives) and means (money to apply for Visas, purchase travel tickets, etc).This even goes far beyond individual or small society level but rather to a wider world, where countries have been labelled as underdeveloped, developing and developed because of their economic power and growth. Even when it comes to manpower planning needs, parents strongly feel that in an area of scarce skilled manpower, the better educated their children, the better chances of getting well paid jobs. The poor ones even look up to the education of their children as a means of alleviating their poverty.
Babalola (2003) is of the notion that, the main problem associated with the belief that education is good for economic growth and development lies in how to maintain an equilibrium position in terms of ascertaining the evidence of either too little or too many educated people in a society. He says that a shortage of educated people will limit growth whilst too much of them will create unemployment hence limiting economic growth and development. The Ministry of Education in Zimbabwe confirms, that there are other teaching fields like languages and social sciences in Zimbabwe, which tend to have excess trained personnel compared to maths and sciences. Therefore migration of these teachers might be necessary than a hindrance and this is evidently a challenge to HCT but a bonus to Globalisation.
While teacher migration has been a burning issue in the Ministry of Education and Zimbabwe as a whole. It is difficult to argue out why the teachers should have stayed in the country of origin given the economic, political and social climate and considering that it is not the only department that has registered a high movement of personnel. The problems associated with teacher migration need to be addressed at government level. Although the destination countries benefit from this migration, it is difficult to conclude that their economic successes depend on these migrants and that countries of origin’s development is prejudiced by this. However the issue of brain drain seems like it will be debatable for long.
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