Colciencias board of governors.
Colciencias board of governors.

(TODAY COLOMBIA) The National Government through the Administrative Department of Science , Technology and Innovation, Colciencias , presented the program ‘s Es Tiempo de Volver (It’s Time to Return), which includes a first call, to be released worldwide . The investment for this program will be over COP 17,201 million pesos in incentives for Colombian doctors who wish to return to the country to undertake research programs and innovation in the productive sector and support national doctoral programs.

The program also aims to draw other educated professionals back home.

At the ceremony held at the National Museum , the director general of Colciencias  Paula Marcela Arias, accompanied by Finance Minister Mauricio Cardenas Santamaria said today Colombia lives a positive transformation “is a country that has changed , which has grown and offers more and better opportunities “and explained in detail what the program is about and what your benefit will be.

Among the benefits are an exemption from tax and import duties levied on the income of the country; and transportation and relocation costs,  among others.

Colombia has experienced a huge brain drain over recent decades, as many of its most educated people migrated to the United States, Canada, Australia and Europe in pursuit of interesting and well-paying professional employment that’s scarce at home. According to Wikipedia, 5.6 million Colombians – more than 10% of the population – live outside the country, and half of Colombia’s trained medical doctors are in the U.S.

Perhaps it’s understandable. After all, Colombia has relatively few jobs for the highly educated, and they pay poorly compared to similar jobs in rich nations. And, until recently, Colombia’s violence drove many wealthy and educated people out of the country.

But the emigration of Colombia’s best and brightest carries a huge cost for Colombian society in terms of the wealth and ideas they might have generated at home, as well as the money Colombia invested in educating professionals, who then put that knowledge to use somewhere else.

So now, Colombia is offering expatriate Colombians with PhDs benefits including salaries, housing subsidies and good positions in universities and scientific institutions for returning to La Madre Patria to live and work for at least two years. The first year, Colciencias plans on creating 200 positions.

I wonder how many professors, doctors, scientists and others will be willing to drop their lives and return home. The most likely, I suspect, will be people nearing retirement, nostalgic for Colombia and no longer very interested in career advancement.

Such people certainly can contribute ideas to Colombia. But, is this investment contribute more to Colombia than would spending the money on, say, preschools or high school textbooks?

And I can’t help thinking about those Colombian academics who stayed loyal to their country and resisted juicy job offers in North America or Europe. What will they think when their colleagues who weren’t so loyal to their homeland get all these benefits for returning home?