The Burden of Knowledge in Third World Countries
“For individuals, knowledge can always be considered as the most valuable asset. But for a country, especially for the third world countries where both the formal and informal institutions responsible for creating and disseminating knowledge have failed to do their job according to the specific requirements of the country, knowledge can become a great burden.”
The conventional wisdom says, “Knowledge is Power” and we do have very firm faith in this notion. This universal belief has a very distinctive and powerful impact on us as we shape our thinking, efforts and life-long devotions on the basis of this titular wisdom. But knowledge itself is a very broad term and without careful planning and visionary policymaking, the creation and dissemination of knowledge can become a national burden!
Ever wonder why there’s so high level of brain-drain in third world countries? Yes, there are typical reasons like the lack of opportunities and the hope of a far better standard of living in developed countries. But there is yet another viewpoint which is so obvious that it’s generally ignored by the policymakers — these third world countries are producing a heavy burden of knowledge in the name of education which just can’t cope up with the particular demand of that country. For instance, say our hypothetical third world country of Wadia is producing quite a number of graduates in fields like engineering and biotechnology. These fresh graduates won’t have enough room to utilize their potential in that country which doesn’t have the necessary infrastructure or even internal demand for utilizing this knowledge-heavy output of the education system. Ultimately, brain-drain happens and these engineering graduates along with the competent biotechnologists would leave the country for a suitable career and brighter future.
Now the problem is, Wadia has already invested heavy resources (both financial and intellectual) for producing knowledge-driven systematic educational outputs like engineers and biotechnologists. As they can’t utilize these outputs for their own betterment, this whole endeavor has become a no-return investment and the country’s tax-payers are actually funding nothing but a loss project. The knowledge that has been created and disseminated through this education system has become a national burden. Yes, developed countries and the world as-a-whole would be benefitted, but Wadia would suffer greatly in the long run and eventually finds itself in the position of a national crisis in every possible aspect — financial, intellectual and political.
Notably, this problem is not evident only in the creation of resource-heavy outputs like engineers and biotechnologists but also through the creation of absolutely unnecessary output from the heavily bureaucratic education system. For instance, Wadia has 30 universities and 20 of them are offering graduate and under-graduate courses in philosophy with a total number of passing students of 1,000 each year. Now, what would Wadia do with 1000 competent philosophers each year? Most of them would eventually start doing other jobs or businesses and the resources spent on them would again be a bad investment for the country, creating unnecessary educational output and subsequent burden of knowledge. It’s safe to argue that if the philosophy graduates who eventually start doing totally different things from their graduation major spent their education years in something more productive based on the demand of Wadia, the country’s investment in these students would be paid off in a far better way.
Let’s focus on another angle of the burden of knowledge. As Wadia is performing poorly with the output of its’ education system and leading to massive brain-drain, a severe knowledge void is being created. It’s evident that knowledge is preserved from generation to generation through active and passive learning and mentorship and for that the first requirement is competent teachers. As Wadia is being brain-drained, each generation would lose more and more of its brightest citizens who were the potential teachers for both formal and informal education systems. The result would be devastating; each coming generation would be further devoid of necessary knowledge/guidance and eventually, the country would become a land of darkness. This is yet another form of the burden of knowledge because Wadia has not only failed to produce and preserve quality knowledge but also couldn’t pass through the little quality knowledge it still produces among the generations. Creating and consuming sub-standard, certificate-driven knowledge is sometimes more dangerous than no education because it provides a person with the false feeling of knowing-it-well which eventually barricades him from acquiring quality knowledge in later years of his life even if he gets the opportunity to do so.
Notably, this scenario of not being able to transfer knowledge to the next generation has a severe negative impact in the creation of competent policymakers and leaders for the next generation(s). And with each passing generation, the little number of still remaining knowledgeable and competent persons would feel that they’re living in some isolated place where they can’t discuss or transfer their intellectual cognition as they’re surrounded by the people who are not even ready to take and preserve their wisdom. For them, their knowledge is like a burden as they don’t have a suitable container to put the water (read knowledge). As a result, the vicious cycle of the burden of knowledge goes on and on, leading Wadia to its ultimate ruin.
The only solution to this problem is to take bold and timely reformative steps by policymakers. First, they have to acknowledge that their education system is not creating the required knowledge, rather generating a geometrically increasing burden for their country’s economy and future potentiality. Then they have to solve the issues prudently while working unitedly for their country’s shake; throwing out political and ideological conflicts. Only then, third world countries like Wadia can hope to lead their country to the next level of sustainable development.