Stillwater Bay

This whole world still looks the same…

Scholarships: A reward or charity?

Posted by dobee5 on June 21, 2009

Firstly, while speaking of scholarships, I have to say thank you to my beloved nation for sponsoring my studies for the past 6 years. Our country has really proven to be a nation which cares about the education of it’s children with all the public school subsidy and higher educational opportunities available. Even in developed countries, you don’t see the government giving out such generosity, for example in the USA most scholarships given out are for sports! In this aspect, we may be regarded one of the best!

However, since the day I was offered the chance to further my studies in Russia, for the medical course, I have never been certain of how these scholarships have been awarded. They claim it to be based on merit, but seeing the people awarded the same benefits as me, surely they were given to the wrong people? No? Or I wondered, that maybe this was my level, NO WAY! (I choose not to stoop to your standards but to set my own)

Then, I ponder, who the heck is it that they send to the UK to study medicine? Are they really that special? Here, I’m only talking about those under the government funds, and not those under related-agencies. I have long and hard thought about why their profiles were never published to the public. I would have certainly wanted to get to know these brilliant minds, and perhaps try to emulate them. Sarcasm (I have met some of these people, and oh what a pity!)

Well, time flies, and I’ve been in this magnificent country with questionable 5 years of medical training under my belt. The scholarship did wonders for me in terms of character building, mastering of a new language, finding a future spouse(?) But, I have gotten nowhere close to becoming the legendary professional I desired to become. Since my dream of studying in Ox-Bridge was murdered by the lack of opportunity and support I have completely deviated from the original goal, and as I’ve noticed so have many of my friends here.

“All of your scholarship, all your study of Shakespeare and Wordsworth would be vain if at the same time you did not build your character and attain mastery over your thoughts and your actions” – Mahatma Gandhi

So I ask, are govt. scholarships a Reward to top performers in the national exams or is it a form of Charity for those who can’t afford to further their studies?

I say it should be both, but they MUST be separated.

Currently, the scholarships are rewarded based on:

1. SPM Results. The number of A’s you pick up during SPM. (Yeah, congratulations to all tose headline-makers with 15-20A1’s: I could thrash you in any of the core subjects with one eye closed). So what if the girl picked up A1s in Art, Tamil language, Tasawuf Islam; does she deserve a place in Oxford to do Accountancy? Maybe the skills in Art will help her draw a PERFECT LEDGER. BS. Thank you to the current government and the initiative of our new DPM, for revamping the system to a maximum of 10 subjects. THANK YOU, but where was this 5 years ago???

2. Race. I don’t need to say more, but in my current locale of 44 govt students, only a mere 13 of them are non-Malays. This was 5 years ago. Last year, 45% of govt scholarships were given to non-Bumis, so in all fairness, this is a no issue now, too. However, if you ask me, as one politician once stated, the race should not even be a requirement for overseas’ scholarships.

3. Background. How much your parents earn, and where your hometown is located. My mom once told me to put my hometown, somewhere outta town. HEck, you get leverage even for that. Ridiculous requirement if the scholarship is considered a reward, a necessity if its categorized as a charity.

4. Extra-curicular Achievements. HAHA. The school will help you lie on this one. I was a State Rugby player, National Debater, Head Prefect, and Top Student. Yeah right! This requirementfully depends on the integrity and honesty of the school, ant the teachers you suck up to.

5. Interview. Another subjective requirement. During my interview, the JPA one, there were 12 of us and the topic discussed was something that had to do about High Council in Boarding Schools? Talk about terrible discussion topic in a poorly lighted govt school classroom. If you want to make interviews involving the bulks, do it Trump-style Boardroom. You’re fired! However, the i’view process has been revamped over the years, and now the system is far better… So, do keep up this requirement.

I say, it’s simple. Split the Scholarship into two types:

a. REWARDS: Send the top performers for the expensive high-demand scholarships to the IVY countries of UK, USA, and Australia. This should be regardless of race, parents’ income (even if your dad earns 20k a month, UK Medicine is beyond you), and number of A1’s in irrelevant subjects. It should be based on your pure performance and credibility. The interviews should be divided into several knock-out stages, too. By all means, publish the names of the successful chosen ones – they may well be the true cream of the nation and our future! (As it stands, those awarded with these scholarships are not the future leaders, but children of the current leaders, lol)

b. CHARITY: This may be for the top performers who dont pass criteria (a), but due to low parents’ income (below 5k monthly) and kampung background, and even Bumiputra status may be put into consideration for these Charity Scholarships to cheaper locations such as Germany, Russia, India and Indonesia.

I wonder, why the Government sends kampung kids toplaces like London and Sydney. After visiting my sister in Dublin, seeing her room-mates, then I realized it’s because they will come back! These kids grow up with the kampung mentality, go overseas, become either overly wild or excessively conservative; either way they will end up back home.

But, at what cost? Your wonderful top performers are put to waste and left behind in the Local Universities, or even sent to destinations they never applied for, mix with the bad influence – and there you have it, you’ve lost your once upon a time top performer.

This two-tier scholarship system is the fool-proof way to go.

At a different time, a different place, or even a different road taken – things would have been so much different. But fate decided that this is the way it will go and it is the best way to go. I surely hope so…

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