A Dutch passport or a PhD degree?

Justice Srem Sai brings context
June 6, 2024
Dutch passport | Photo: Expatica

A passport, primarily, is a traveling document. It facilitates a person’s movement from one country to another. Indeed, it is a request by a sovereign to another sovereign to extend some rights, privileges and protection to an individual – the passport holder.

On the other hand, a PhD (Philosopher’s Degree) is, primarily, a certification by a university that a person has been so desirous of finding or contributing to finding a solution to a social problem within academic context that she has spent much time and effort to investigate the problem.

So, in their original, proper, true, and dignified contexts, a passport and a PhD are like apples and oranges – they have nothing in common to make for any truly sensible comparison. That’s the first point. However, to leave the matter here, at this point, is to fail, entirely, to appreciate a very interesting context.

This is the context: Among poor people and in third world countries, everything is immediately economic – bread, butter and butt. This economic need is, often, reduced to the need for immediate (rather than long term) personal money. In other words, poor people measure the value of everything in terms of immediate personal money.

So, in such worlds, a passport of a Western country is not just a traveling document. In fact, it is not a traveling document at all. A passport, particularly of a country in Western Europe or North America, is solely an access to economic wellbeing – a decisive breakaway from poverty.

Similarly, to a poor person from a poor third world country, a PhD has, in many cases, ceased to be evidence of a person’s desire to find a solution to a social problem within an academic context. For many, a PhD (in fact, any other degree), too, gives access to economic wellbeing – a means of falling out with poverty.

So, this debate, fundamentally, is a debate for or among poor deprived people in poor third world countries. Now, stripped of all the faulty decorations, while remaining within the “poverty” context, the real question is this – between (a) the passport to a Western European or North American country, and (b) a Ghana PhD – which one gives a better access to immediate personal socioeconomic wellbeing?

Put this way, I think, the question is far less disputable.

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