Monday, August 11, 2008

Blocking the drain

I had to chuckle when I saw this article yesterday – Get involved — or no degree.

It has been an idea a few of us keep bandying about. Should our state install community service for university students? If the state is paying 60% of a university student’s study fees, then yes. Bring it on!

What do the medical students think about this? They have had it for a few years now, and man-oh-man, do I recall every richer kid and their parent stressing about a year’s worth of work in the rural-clinic-of-nowhere. But it seems to have worked. And taught these folk more than just how to stitch a wound, but actually how massive the country’s health woes are.

Perhaps such a requirement filters out those medical students who just are not interested in the “giving” side of medicine… do we need that filter? As a do-gooder, I obviously lean to “yes”. But we also need those docs who are in it for the cash and prestige, who drive us forward in other ways, and in new innovations. Capitalism may be a Biatch, but in some ways, it works. And it works wonders. And we must make the best of these ways.

Me and my do-gooder mates also keep wondering how to fairly solve the challenge of our skills leaving South Africa. That Brain Drain.

If you have the skills, and these are not being appreciated, or you would like some overseas experience, and the world is globalised, why not travel? At the crunch, do you owe any impoverished person anything? If they were in your shoes, would they stay for you?

So us folk try to manipulate the system to entice the brains, and the exhausted passion, to stay. But how??

Long-term, more than slight pay increases on certain jobs might be an idea. Hey, hey, imagine that dear executive. Less for you, and your jet-setting posse (literally in the case of Darling Mbeki!) and more for those dear folk who are actually “doing”.

Who teach when there is no roof or books or feeding scheme. Or heal kids when there are fck all resources (anyone catch Carte Blanche last night!).

Short-term though, some community service is an idea. Why has it only been for the medical students? Well, and the engineers who have been bursaried by the big guys and must then work back a year for each year of study that was paid for.

For one year, after you graduate, you have to work for the state. And what a way to learn fast in the working world! …working for government and the greatest bureaucracy. Often, it is what a lesson of how NOT to do things, and how to get the job done around hiccups, red tape, and personalities that really seem out to fail the entire goal.

Which always makes me wonder what I would have had to do…with my politics degree?


Anonymous said...

part complaint, part analysis, part activism, another part complaint for good measure - isn't that what one does with a degree in politics.

complaint and alcohol consumption is a key competency.

Anonymous said...

What an awesome idea Champs.

ATW said...

A POL degree? I suggest an two year internment as JZ's praise singer...

Anonymous said...

I agree, brilliant idea.

I think it should start even earlier though, with school kids from advantaged schools having more outreach and community based projects. Get them started young so to speak, so that they don't find it so hard to face up to the real world as adults.

Champagne Heathen said...

Numero - you missed out the vital "Hold random conference to get all stakeholders together to talk crap and not use any of what was discussed and just do what you were going to originally do anyway"!

Dolce - Aaah, thanks! You do make me blush!

ATW - Yeah! I love a visit from you! I don't so much like your idea of internment!

Rox - I definitely agree to schools have outreach programmes and that it should start earlier! Get us into a habit from age 10!