P U B L I C L E C T U R E
by Hon. Justice Prof Dr James Otieno-Odek
Career after Post-Graduate Doctoral Studies: Brain Circulation – A Perspective from Kenya
Thu, 29 June 2017, 4 pm
S 52, RW II
To many people, pursuing primary and high school education is a matter of course - it is part of growing up as a child. Pursuing college or graduate education is partly dependent on grades attained at High School and parental guidance amongst other factors. In contrast, the decision to pursue a doctoral program is not an easy one. It is a personal and lonely decision made by an adult where several personal and socio-economic factors must be balanced and weighted. The pursuit of a doctoral program requires commitment of time, emotions, personal and social and economic sacrifice and energy unrivaled in educational settings. Delay in entry into the job market and either postponement of settling down into family life or “disruption” of family life are fundamental decisions made by individuals pursuing the PhD program.
This is an experiential paper drawing from the personal perspective of a Kenyan doctorate degree holder. The presenter holds a Masters of Law (LLM) degree from Yale Law School (Connecticut-USA) and a Doctorate in Juridical Science (SJD) from the University of Toronto (Ontario-Canada). Upon completion of the SJD program, the presenter returned back to Kenya and is resident in Nairobi, Kenya.
The paper aims at demonstrating that it is worth pursuing doctoral studies and there is a career path open for PhD holders back in Africa. The paper urges PhD holders to return back to their countries to reverse brain drain and contribute to brain circulation and transnational enterprise.
The paper emphasizes the worth of PhD holders as contributors to human resource capital base of a country. It is observed that national PhD holders are critical in establishing indigenous and sustainable knowledge based economy for a country. The PhD holders play a significant role in knowledge creation and skills transfer. The paper identifies broad non-monetary advantages and disadvantages of pursuing a doctorate degree. Personal satisfaction and self-actualization; career flexibility and security; versatility in terms of vertical and horizontal mobility at the job market and opportunities for advanced empirical research are noteworthy advantages of pursuing a doctoral study. Expanded professional network as a non-monetary advantage of a PhD degree program is emphasized. The personal, social and economic costs invested in undertaking doctoral studies are identifiable as a disadvantages. The uncertainty as to whether pursuit of a doctorate degree guarantees return on investment is a drawback associated with pursuit of a PhD program. The absence of a clear-cut career path for PhD holders and the prospects of over qualification and underemployment is a factor that is highlighted in the paper. Despite the identifiable drawbacks, the central theme in the paper which is experiential leads to the conclusion and at individual, social and national level, it is worth pursuing a PhD degree program.
The paper concludes by urging candidates pursing PhD programs in foreign countries to return to their home countries and engage in brain circulation. It is emphasized that intra and inter country movement of skilled and knowledgeable personnel contributes to creation of a knowledge based economy in the country. PhD holders are urged to engage in brain circulation because being highly-skilled and analytical, their re-entry into their countries increases the human resource capital base and provides a sustainable basis for knowledge creation and dissemination as well as skills transfer.