Articles

gaining by losing

In conversations on June 19, 2006 by carinasuyin

“You work your ass off to get all As and you get Aquaculture. Stupendous logic. Makes a mockery of all that stress and care in filling each of the 8 choices, doesn’t it?”
“None of our local university offered him Engineering but NUS did. Alas he won’t be able to afford it even with a tuition grant unless he also takes a student loan.”
“She was crying buckets when I called her. She’s devastated they gave her zoology.”

Today during dinner at the kopitiam downstairs, tears flowed and they wouldn’t stop for awhile. Utterly embarassing but I couldn’t help it, a frustration tempered with sadness that has been simmering with heartache and disappointment needed to come out somehow. Perhaps it was the distress in reading about the kongsi raya=haram issue in the papers on Sunday. Maybe it’s the growing realisation that my country really does not love me back. I feel like I’ve been living in a giant protective bubble wrap and slowly, the bubbles are being popped, one at a time. Rose-tinted glasses are fogging over with disillusionment and there is nothing I can do about it.

“If God made me rich beyond imagination, I’d set up a scholarship fund to help these STPM achievers so that nobody can deny them their dreams!”
“Ah Su, you are already richer than you can imagine.”
“I don’t get it.”
“You may not be rich with money but you have a great family and upbringing. That is more wealth than most people have.”
“How does that help anything or anyone?”
“Your sister and all her peers, like us, they will survive and be stronger. We went through the same system but it hasn’t stopped us from achieving what we want, right? So like us, they will find another way. A harder way but eventually, they will be better than those who got opportunities handed to them.”

God bless Ah Tan, gem of a friend and anti-fog specialist.

How do you reconcile studying so hard and scoring great results with outright denial of what you want to study in the local university? I am of course refering to the oft neglected STPM scorers and not the circus -worthy feat of achieving 12 or 13A1s for SPM. Why don’t our educational system and scholarship bodies recognise the efforts of these students? Why are there more scholarships available at the SPM qualification level than for those with great STPM achievements? What kind of crap meritocracy is it when the matriculation program is put on par with the STPM? Doesn’t the fact that STPM remains the only Malaysian pre-university qualification recognised by overseas universities say something obvious? Why is something that is so plain to see remains so obtuse to the people who create and carry out our educational policies? STPM scorers are intent on one single purpose which is to make the grade to pursue a course of their choice in our local university. If they could afford an overseas education, they do not have to choose the STPM as other globally recognised pre-university qualifications are aplenty.

No, I do not need answers to the questions I’m asking. I know all the answers (don’t we all?) and that is why the tears came streaming down. This is what you call kik sim-ness yang tidak terhingga.

My heart breaks many times over for all the good STPM scorers who are denied of any of their eight course choices or are refused a place in the local universities altogether. Perhaps as Ah Tan wisely said, pursuing your dreams via the harder route will make success all the sweeter and more meaningful. Have a good cry and then move on. Find out your alternative options and have faith, there are always many different paths to arrive at the same destination. We may not be able to change a moronic system but we are fully able to chart the routes our own lives take. Journey well and may you walk with a happy heart.

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3 Responses to “gaining by losing”

  1. Ah… the realisation and then the leaving. Home that is not really a home to us step children.

    I guess education can’t always be free for everyone although I’ve enjoyed mostly free education up to now. But I think it’s not the lack of scholarship for students but the lack of scholarships for deserving students that’s sad.

    Makes you wonder if all those billions spent building Putrajaya, Twin Towers, F1 race course could have been better spent building Malaysian Berkeleys, Harvards, MITs, Oxfords or Cambridges. Well, we’ll never know and we’ll continue to see unwanted minds joining the exodus of (ex-)Malaysians overseas.

  2. Speaking of which, I am already in the crowd šŸ™‚

  3. the soothsayer: Yeah, it’s really disheartening to be going “Padan muka!” when you read about the country lamenting its brain drain. Nevertheless, I will find it extremely difficult to give up my citizenship… my roots run deep and thus far, my history remains entwined with hers šŸ™‚

    mt: Young and glocal… we live in exciting times!

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