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Time to stop youth exodus

Critics worry that outmigration of the youths could deprive Nepal of a human capital crucial for national development

Time to stop youth exodus

In recent times, a phenomenon has captured the attention of many: The outmigration of Nepali youths for higher education and better job opportunities, given ‘bleak prospects in the country’. As a result, youths are hard to find in Nepal's cities and villages, leaving the aged people, women and children to fend for themselves. 

This article tries to probe deeper into the situation, exploring the reasons behind this trend, its implications and a complex interplay of factors that shape Nepal's demographic landscape. It is critical to study why the youths, including students, are leaving the villages and towns in big numbers daily. It is necessary to investigate whether the Nepali state has created an atmosphere in which the youths see no future in the country. 

Factors like educational aspirations, economic opportunity, global scale exposure, family and migration history, urbanization and return migration are possibly behind this drain. 

Many of the youths are relocating abroad to pursue high-quality higher education with an eye on better career prospects. Ambitious students may look for educational opportunities abroad due to a lack of seats, outdated curriculums and inadequate infrastructure. For Nepali students seeking degrees in a variety of fields, popular destinations include the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Japan and Canada.

The decision to study abroad is driven not just by the desire for a good education, but also by better job prospects. In a globalized world, international exposures can make way for high-paying jobs and opportunities for career advancement, which don’t come easy in Nepal. The allure of higher wages and improved living standards often tempts young adults to explore employment opportunities overseas. 

Our education system has not evolved much with time. To pass exams is the sole goal for most of our students, whereas Nepali youths studying or working overseas get tremendous global exposure, cross-cultural experiences and networking opportunities. These factors can help them advance their careers by becoming more competitive.

Nepal has a variety of demographics, but one thing is common. We are always seeking a better life in other parts of the world that have well-developed infrastructure. Historically, Nepali workers have migrated to India and countries in the Gulf as well as Southeast Asia in search of jobs. Familial connections can also influence young people's decisions to seek opportunities abroad.

What’s more, we are a bizarre ‘agrarian society’ with hardly anyone solely dependent on agriculture for a living. In rural areas, there is a lack of proper infrastructure like schools, colleges, hospitals, roads and telephone services, not to mention a young population that can drive growth as it either moves to urban areas within the country or leaves the country altogether in search of better opportunities.

The outmigration of young Nepali students does have implications for Nepal (the country of origin) as well as the receiving countries. Let's examine some of these implications. 

By the way, the absence of a strategy for brain gain has not stopped us from worrying about brain drain. 

The Nepalis working abroad send a significant amount of remittances, playing a crucial role in keeping the domestic economy afloat. These remittances help finance their dependants’ education, raise rural communities’ standards of living and also offer big support for small local companies. Nepali students based abroad act as cultural ambassadors, fostering cross-cultural understanding and building bridges between Nepal and other countries. This cultural exchange can lead to stronger diplomatic ties and increased awareness of Nepal in the global arena.

While migration can help the economy, it can also mean increased difficulties for families staying behind. Families may have trouble handling domestic responsibilities when loved ones are away for long. An increasing outflow of youths also means increased pressure for the country’s international airport and visa processing services, necessitating efforts to improve and streamline the infrastructure and services to cater to a growing demand. 

The potential for "brain gain", which happens when students return home with international degrees, abilities and experiences to advance Nepal's growth, often gets overlooked because not many of these brains come back home.  

Critics worry that this drain could deprive Nepal of a human capital crucial for national development. 

Summing up, it’s time for the government to take urgent measures to retain the youth and use their energies for national advancement. 


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