Beyond Recall

Submitted by Dr. Grenville Phillips II

The Barbados Statistical Service has reported that Barbadian households are spending a larger amount of their income on education [1]. Normally this would be good news, but if the education obtained was at tertiary level, it is not good news for modern Barbados.

People who complete tertiary-level education may develop independent thoughts. Independent thinkers tend to think for themselves, rather than blindly accept what others tell them. Most Barbadians who complete their tertiary-level education tend to leave Barbados.


The World Bank’s study on emigration [2] shows that Barbados is one of the few countries on Earth where most of its tertiary educated population left. The consistent figure was over 60%. In 2000, Barbados had the 13th highest brain drain rate (emigration of skilled workers) among 191 nations on Earth at 61.4%. A decade earlier in 1990, it was 63.5%.

To put that shockingly high number in context, only twelve other countries had a higher brain-drain than Barbados in 2000. Further, the average brain-drain rates in: Central America (16.1%), South America (5.7%), Central Africa (13.3%), West Africa (26.7%), East Africa (18.4%), Southern Africa (5.3%), and Asia and Oceania (less than 10%), were significantly less than in Barbados [2].

To further understand this number, war-torn countries and those suffering with famine had less brain drain rates than Barbados in 2000. To make matters worse, by 2011 we had the fourth highest brain drain rate on Earth at 66.2% [3]. Only Trinidad and Tobago (68.2%), Haiti (75.1%) and Guyana (93%) had a higher brain drain rate [3].


A brain-drain rate of over 60% cannot be in Barbados’ best interest. Why do so many of our highly educated independent thinkers want to leave Barbados? They can either be attracted to something in another country, or repulsed by something in Barbados, or both.

The same lure of higher wages, better employment opportunities and being with family also attract people in other regions. Yet, their brain drain rates are a small fraction of Barbados’. Therefore, there seems to be something in Barbados that independent thinkers find highly offensive. What can it be? Let us start by analysing what happens after a general election.


First, the new political administration justifies purging thousands of Barbadian public workers that were hired by the previous administration by claiming: (i) they need to cut spending, and (ii) they are adhering to a ‘Last In First Out’ (LIFO) policy. The new administration then hires thousands of new public workers, despite the need to cut spending, thus sustaining this cycle of LIFO purges.

After the new public workers excitedly obtain car loans and home mortgages, they are informed that the party in opposition will send them home if they get are re-elected. Therefore, to protect their families, they are forced to become dependent on, and blind supporters and fierce defenders of the party that hired them. Treating families like pawns in this political game is highly offensive.


Second, the party in government normally awards contracts to persons and businesses with no competitive tendering. This method of procurement automatically disqualifies the most competent Barbadians, and almost always ensures that the least technically competent companies get the opportunity to do exceptionally poor work at inflated costs – that must then be redone.

The public is forced to pay for both the original and the repair work with increased taxes. These corrupting no-bid contracts are offensive. They reinforce the idea that Barbados is a place designed to reward the worst companies, and disqualify the best from participating in the national economy. The obvious solution is to abolish those contracts – but that would offend political donors.


Tertiary level educated Barbadians seem to follow four paths: (i) support the political party in government and eat, (ii) support another political party – and eat less, (iii) stay in Barbados and trust God, (iv) leave Barbados and avoid political victimisation. More than 60% have chosen to leave.

The results of such a massive brain drain means that there are fewer qualified Barbadians left to do technical tasks. This was confirmed by a survey conducted in 2020 where the main obstacle affecting business operations in Barbados was the lack of an adequately educated workforce [4].


The most severe consequence of this brain-drain of independent thinkers is extreme partisanship among most who remain. By 2015, the partisan contagion had infected: professional organisations, business organisations, the news media, secondary schools’ management and tragically – churches. Today, eight years later, the contagion has spread wider and rooted deeper – to the detriment of our children who mostly know partisan illusions of success.

We are facilitating people from other countries to pleasantly live, work and prosper in Barbados. At the same time, we are making it extremely difficult for most educated Barbadians to succeed in Barbados – so most have escaped. To whom are we leaving these Fields and Hills?

Grenville Phillips II is a Doctor of Engineering and a Chartered Structural Engineer. He can be reached at

[1] Retail Price Index, February 2023. Statistical Bulletin. Barbados Statistical Service.

[2] Docquier, Frédéric; Marfouk, Abdeslam. 2004. Measuring the International Mobility of Skilled Workers (1990-2000): Release 1.0. Policy Research Working Paper No.3381. The World Bank, Washington, D.C.

[3] Migration and Remittances Factbook 2016, 3rd edition. 2016. The World Bank, Washington, D.C.

[4] Reflections on Innovation and Productivity. 2023. Caribbean Economics Quarterly, Vol.12, Issue 01. Inter-American Development Bank.

45 thoughts on “Beyond Recall

  1. It would appear from your description, there is a Regional issue? When 3 of the top 4 lie within a few miles of each other in the S.Carribean.

    What if, from a young age, persons are told, there is ‘no future here’, and the goal is to go somewhere else. The ‘remittances’ are a part of life for many.

    Some of you other observations then flow more naturally. In a small economy where the Gov’t controls much money, if they award contracts to the ‘most capable’ it guarantees concentration? So instead, one becomes partisan, to feed well when ones favoured party is in power, and hopefully ‘get by’ when they aren’t. This makes the elected very powerful? (And their closest advisors) And they can receive a ‘commission’ for doling out public contracts to their faithful. The best can gravitate regardless of who rules, they play both instruments equally well.

    While this is part of life everywhere, possibly it is more pronounced in smaller economies, where divisions are more obvious. Where Gov’t go from societal levellers to the biggest game in town.

    • The labour markets of our small countries will struggle in a global economy to retain talent for obvious reasons.




  3. Excellent article Grenville.
    This is the kind of analysis that should PRECEDE the lotta shiite verbiage that we get every other week about the eddykashun system.

    What are we trying to achieve with our young people?
    Is it to spend a fortune to ‘educate’ them only for them to run off to contribute to foreign lands – while we then look to import people to stabilize our own population?
    What then should a successful education system be producing?
    What changes are needed to achieve such a successful outcome?
    Who are best suited to drive such changes?
    Is it likely to be the SAME jokers who created the unbalanced situation in the first place?
    What is the overall NATIONAL vision and Policy that sets the pace for our expenditure in education?

    Only primates (and brass bowls) run around REACTING to ongoing failures, over and over, and doing so by ‘trial and error’ – RATHER that coming up with a clear vision, specific objectives and a well thought out PROACTIVE plan of action.

    Thank you for dropping the chocolate habit Boss….

    • @Bush Tea

      Our system is not to educate citizens to compete on the world stage? The inability of our labour market to absorb them is another matter?

  4. @ David
    World Stage shiite!!
    Charity BEGINS at home….
    If you don’t love yourself, your family, your community, your country etc, then you are only fooling yourself about any ‘world stage’

    If that is indeed our ‘system’, then we should not be surprised that we are becoming increasingly indebted, while losing control of all our assets…
    In a bushman’s humble opinion, such would be an idiotic vision to have for any country – and on which to exhaust our scarce resources.

    How about a vision that seeks to make Barbados “best in its Class globally”, in a number of specific categories such as infrastructural development, environmental greenness, low crime and safety, low poverty, administrative transparency, and population health ….to randomly choose a few…?

    Then we will not only NEED our best and brightest to be here in order to achieve these targets, but we also need to judge them against the best in the whole world in assessing performance.
    …but we would ALSO need EVERY OTHER CITIZEN to operate at their own maximum ability to meet such targets – and we therefore would have to recognize and reward such efforts -JUST as we do the bright high-flyers like Grenville….
    …think about the implications then for schools, 11+, salary scales, self-respect, national awards etc…

    Wisdom is a funny thing not to have, yuh hear boss…

    • @Bush Tea

      To be relevant at home we have to educate to world standard not so? Isn’t this what you have been preaching re CXC issue?

    • Bushie
      Since most days, albeit from different angles we get the ‘community centric’ concept from you, I wonder, where are Bajans investing?
      We hear about our Caricom neighbours, Canucks, Brits etc buying our ‘assets’. About how no ‘non Black’ will sell to a black person, then where are black, or any skin tone, Bajans investing? Or are they?

    • @ NO
      “….where are black, or any skin tone, Bajans investing? Or are they?”
      They are…in ‘pride’…
      …in the latest model cars, appliances and luxury items that are guaranteed to impress friends and neighbors for a few months.
      …also guaranteed to lose almost all their value by the time that they are paid off in installments.

      The traditional Bajan investors in assets have been selling, and hedging their bets on multi-million dollar bank accounts spread locally and overseas….. LOL
      Perhaps YOU can share a word to them about the fragility of such liquid investments….

      Net result is, we have thousands of late model vehicles packed on the islands roads (many of them uninsured- and thus the increased hit & runs), and we have BILLIONS of dollars stashed on bank accounts awaiting the coming crash, .. being engineered by BRICS – even as we speak.

      Unless people are smart Enuff like you are, to know EXACTLY where to invest safely, (or like Bushie, to invest in a kingdom far away 🙂 ) …it looks like our collective donkeys are doomed one way or another…

      BTW @NO
      the ‘community centric’ philosophy is NOT about any brilliant investment strategy aimed at making profits. It is actually just about the operationalization of LOVE, and about CARING for the ‘less blessed’ among us.
      Any returns from THAT investment are accumulated in the ‘kingdom far away’…. ha ha

    • @Bush Tea

      When the banking system collapses how will it effect the other non cash investments? We return to bartering?

  5. The UWI bill in the estimates is 120 mil and we still owe UWI millions that keeps rolling over.
    What do we get for this 120 mil, the majority of graduates are in So Sci with degrees in Management and bla bla bla.
    The end result is we lack the graduates with degrees in Biochem and Pharmacology that would be needed to get a medicinal cannabis industry going but instead we have a bunch of bureaucrats with Management degrees to run a Medicinal Cannabis Licensing Authority that manages nothing and their best idea is to offer ads on a social media page.
    All degrees are not equal, a grad in Biochem is more valuable than 20 Management grads

    • We need trained professionals in all areas but to use Mia’s overused words- recruitment must be fit for purpose.

    • UWI was allowed to become one man’s vanity project. In the late 90’s the entry requirements were reviewed to make it easier particularly in So Sci.
      What have we got to show for the millions spent in their miseducation, an army of entitled women, who specialise in gossip and vindictiveness (HR), marketing, advertising and selling imported stuff for companies owned by Trinidadians and mendicancy (charities, debt forgiveness and reparations).
      This will not lead to national development, just more debt and more entitlement.

  6. No David, we need to educate ABOVE world standard.
    …. and by ‘above’, Bushie means NOT COPYING failed ‘albino-centric’ selfish and greedy approaches being used worldwide…

  7. ” Barbados had the 13th highest brain drain rate ”

    Give us some real numbers
    as opposed to the rate of brain rate
    point is
    small population = small numbers

    the following will have larger populations
    and a larger multiple of leavers in real numbers
    Central America (16.1%),
    South America (5.7%),
    Central Africa (13.3%),
    West Africa (26.7%),
    East Africa (18.4%),
    Southern Africa (5.3%),
    Asia and Oceania (less than 10%)

    It’s not rocket science to realise that Barbados which is a small island with high education standards will have a lot of qualified people leaving for better long term career opportunities and higher income in more prosperous nations in the big wide world. You only have one chance in this life. People who are comfortable and well off will stay. Others may feel they can advance higher in foreign.

    Know your data
    People need to feel and understand meaning and implications of data in their analysis

  8. @ David

    Remember, each UWI campus has a specific specialty.

    Degrees in disciplines such as pharmacology are taught at UWI Mona.

    Computer related sciences, agriculture, aeronautics etc….. St. Augustine.

  9. David, traditionally, Cave Hill was known as the law campus. A consistent increase in the number of applications to the law faculty forced the administration to offer law at Mona and St. Augustine as well. I believe there was a similar situation with Mona’s medical faculty, the reason why medicine is also offered at CH. But, that is subject to correction. ‘At the end of the day,’ UWI is one university with four campuses.

    • BTW, David, because you may read 50 students graduated from CH with BSc in Accounting, Management or any other ‘so sci’ degree, for example, does not necessarily mean they are all Bajans. That number may comprise of students from other regional territories. The common factor is, they graduated from CH. And, remember, GOB pays fees for undergraduate degrees and one or two graduate degrees for Barbadians.

    • @Artax

      It is a fair statement however to say a majority of our (Bajan) from Cave Hill are Soci grads?

  10. Know your data
    You have made a point which I agree with. Jus focusing on rates or regions may or be the correct approach.
    (1) The percentage of persons with tertiary education may be higher than elsewhere
    (2) The economy of Barbados may not be able to easily accommodate the number of graduates each year
    (3) The economy may not be able to accommodate the diverse range of graduates.
    Notice that I have not mention the various social interactions that young/fresh employees may have to go through.

    The quoted rates may be correct, but the why of and what drives these rates may be worth investigating. Grenville touched on some of the why …


    RE What are we trying to achieve with our young people?

    A BETTER QUESTION IS WHAT ARE our young people trying to achieve?

    Is it to spend a fortune to ‘educate’ them only for them to run off to contribute to foreign lands –


    What then should a successful education system be producing?
    What changes are needed to achieve such a successful outcome?
    Who are best suited to drive such changes?




  12. The 2 Geezers

    Geezer 1. “It is actually just about the operationalization of LOVE, and about CARING for the ‘less blessed’ among us.”

    Geezer 2. “When the banking system collapses how will it effect the other non cash investments? We return to bartering?”

    Geezer 2 is the epitome of all that is wrong with his money obsession
    Geezer 1 is a dreamer like John Lennon and Yoko Ono on Imagine

  13. @ David

    An adjustment to my 11:54 AM contribution:

    “And, remember, GOB pays fees for undergraduate degrees and one or two graduate degrees for Barbadians…… not ONLY at Cave Hill, but at the OTHER campuses as well.”

    • If it’s the same Columbia, that is a high school, so ‘dentistry’ is a new thing (Duguid?)
      And they need how many acres? Seventy?
      Something is off.
      Back to GoB acquiring land by eminent domain for a Private school.
      Despite all claims, Columbia is a school largely for HK students (possibly mainland China today as well). The founder is from HK.

  14. I have been trying to post a link but my posts never go through. Anyway
    Cave Hill Grads
    2019 – Total 5167 (So Sci 2746)
    2020 – Total 5571 (So Sci 2936)
    2021 – Total 5530 (So Sci 2823)
    2022 – Total 5231 (So Sci 2680)

    Source: The UWI Cave Hill Campus Student Statistics Report 2022/2023

    • David, the gist of our ‘conversation’ was that stats would be the best source to accurately answer your question. We were not only provided with stats, which could’ve contributed to what has been so far, a respectfull discussion on this thread, but a silly, snide remark as well. It is shamefull when a woman behaves, in Bajan parlance, ‘black guardish,’ and perhaps worst, even more so, for a ‘man.’

  15. Beyond Recall
    Is this title a subconcious reference to
    Finding My Mind
    written by
    or amnesia

  16. Took a tour of St Lucy. The main road which drove me crazy is in much better condition than it was previously. Great improvement has been made.

    Other roads need fixing, but on the whole St Lucy is looking better (to me).

  17. Back to the substantive matter after that smackdown

    Many of the problems facing Barbados do not require social engineering solutions they require STEM based solutions. In many cases the solutions are “simple” as John often points out but the issue is how many Grenvilles are there in the brainstorming room vs BSc Management degree types.

    Some will reason debt is our biggest problem, and STEM grads aren’t useful when negotiating with creditors (I agree), but what caused the debt, could it be we had the wrong type or make up decision makers and this led to wastage, overpaying and corruption. Grenville has mentioned many times about the dearth of chartered engineers in government. How much has this played a role in many of the costly infrastructure problems we face.

    Should the government continue to subsidise the education of So Sci when the graduates do not become entrepreneurs, they prefer the comfort of a bureaucracy where they can maintain the status quo and they often see innovation as a threat.

  18. Social science is, in its broadest sense, the study of society and the manner in which people behave and influence the world around us.

    Consciously Directing Pranic Energy For Self Healing

    Marcus’ Children of Barbados needs social living for healing

  19. Well, that makes two woman-haters. Blame everything on the women. Stupid and sick really.

    How many women have you left on BU?

    So..let me hear your solutions, men!

    “Women, back to the kitchen and bedroom! The way to a stupid man’s heart (if he has one) is through his stomach. Also, we need more babies”

    Who created this situation of which Grenville speaks? Who made this a country where political partisanship determines access to the public purse?

    Wasn’t the women, was it?

    So…men share more of the responsibility for what we have become. They set up the system. The women are only following suit.

    I thought you wanted us to follow, not lead. Well done! We followed.

    Continue to talk wunnuh shite, man, looking to blame women instead of attempting proper analysis!

    The point about social sciences could easily have been made without degrading women. It is a valid point. We definitely need to create something to manage, or management studies will be over-rated.

    But…I’m off to better spend my time, away from old, misogynistic men, one of whom is obviously bitter.


  20. Where are you? I have traveled to the top of every cliff in Barbados. When I ask ‘Are you her’ women look at me as if I am crazy. One went so far as to threaten to throw me off the cliff.
    Did I say ‘one’? That means I did not take the threat from wifey seriously.

    No one admits to being the “The A guy”.

    The rabbit went aground.

    Accused of being racist when I ask folks if they are 000 or related to him.

    It looks as if I will return without meeting my heroes

  21. The 0 Geezer
    No offense but..
    I tend to ignore your witticisms as they are mind numbing and unfunny
    the level of banter is for little leagues
    blank ’em

  22. 000
    I was concerned. I thought we had lost contact.

    My appreciation for the genre of music that you play here is increasing. You are probably a pioneer in aBUsic.

    aBUsic – noises by 000 that are geared towards driving folks away from BU.

  23. “Beyond Recall”
    Yes indeed.
    I was going to say something important,
    but I have forgotten what it was,
    I will revert back again when it comes to me.
    Normal service will be resumed shortly.
    Skin Tight (Part 1), Skin Tight (Part 2), Stepping Stones

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