The Barbados Statistical Service has reported that Barbadian households are spending a larger amount of their income on education . 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.
AN EMBARRASSING STATISTIC
The World Bank’s study on emigration  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 .
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% . Only Trinidad and Tobago (68.2%), Haiti (75.1%) and Guyana (93%) had a higher brain drain rate .
WHY WOULD THEY FLEE
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.
SEND THEM HOME
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.
OPTIONS FOR INDEPENDENT THINKERS
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 .
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 NextParty246@gmail.com
 Retail Price Index, February 2023. Statistical Bulletin. Barbados Statistical Service.
 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.
 Migration and Remittances Factbook 2016, 3rd edition. 2016. The World Bank, Washington, D.C.
 Reflections on Innovation and Productivity. 2023. Caribbean Economics Quarterly, Vol.12, Issue 01. Inter-American Development Bank.