Tuesday, June 14, 2005

More Scholarship Tales

One of the little joys of writing a blog (as I've discovered in my very short stint to date), is that you get the nice little mails coming into the mailbox telling you stories of things you would never have known otherwise. Well, the mails telling you to "keep up the good work" are pretty nice too :)

I've earlier blogged on Anisah as well as my wife's experience with the Public Service Department (PSD). Rozanna Latiff then wrote to me about her experience during her scholarship application with MARA. She was one of the very very few bumiputeras who has applied and successfully received the ASEAN scholarship from the Ministry of Education in Singapore. And she's now in the midst of completing her double degree in Law and Arts (Media and Communications) in University of Melbourne.

I applied for a scholarship after getting accepted into uni. I had my race on my side but not much else. During the interview, they insisted on conducting the interview in Malay, assuming that I was already fluent in English. While I had no problems with that, I felt vaguely insulted. I am a bumi, I studied BM throughout my entire school life, maybe just slightly less than your average Malaysian. I also didn't see the point.

Like your wife's account, the interview had nothing to do with my education, preferring to concentrate on my parents and asking about the Singapore scholarship provisions. Then right at the end, they asked me why I wanted to study arts media and why I wasn't interested in engineering. I gave them my reasons. They then told me that theydidn't usually give scholarships for law OR arts, at which point I definitely knew I wasn't getting it. Sure enough, I was right, myapplication was rejected.

Which brings me to my next issue with the current system. TOO many students have absolutely no idea about what they want to study in uni. Too many bright, smart students take the easy option and go for(usually) medicine, engineering and IT. What's worse, a number of students were told specifically by their scholarship provider what course they should be doing, despite the fact they may do better or are more interested in a different course. As a result, there are so many students who may be good at what they're doing but have absolutely no real passion / enthusiasm for their chosen courses - something which in my opinion only serves to encourage the culture ofmediocrity in Malaysia.

I didn't bother with getting a scholarship in the end - my dad [flight instructor, and mum's a former school principal] in the end told me that he had started saving for college since I was born but that he thought a scholarship might ease the burden a bit. He's 59 now and still working to put me through school, something that I'm forever grateful for. But I know I'm lucky and there are many other people who don't have the same opportunities.

As far as I'm concerned, meritocracy simply doesn't exist within the current system. It's not just race-based but class-based as well (too many stories of scholarships given out to children of already wealthy goverment officials). The current policy of encouraging students to enrol in such-and-such courses helps no one either.

Rozanna, I agree with a lot of the points raised and hopefully you'll return back home to help us make the system a little better. I'm a firm believer of the maxim "sikit sikit, lama-lama pun jadi bukit" :)

8 comments:

Roz said...

Don't worry, I'll definitely come home, I've been away for a very long time.

Still think Malaysia's the best place to live in despite all its flaws. :)

Tiara said...

I bought a copy of the Malaysian Scholarship Guide (RM8) - and they're all skewed towards Science subjects. Found a couple for law and business, but NOTHING for arts and humanities.

Why?

Anonymous said...

Probably because:

1. They forgot about the arts & humanties.

2. They forgot because they don't think it is relevant.

3. It is not relevant that is why there is no mention, cast away into oblivion.

4. No tangible return on investment.

5. Artist should suffer abit more to make good art.

6. They don't realised that Warren Buffet's as a proclivity for liberal arts graduates to run his investment portfolios.

Old Man

Anonymous said...

Probably because:

1. They forgot about the arts & humanties.

2. They forgot because they don't think it is relevant.

3. It is not relevant that is why there is no mention, cast away into oblivion.

4. No tangible return on investment.

5. Artist should suffer abit more to make good art.

6. They don't realise that Warren Buffet has a proclivity for liberal arts graduates to run his investment portfolios.

Old Man

Anonymous said...

yessss...malaysia is the best place to stay!! i'm currently studying in a medical school in one of the 'highly-developed-western' countries..everything is good here..the weather, the technology, the ppl, the salary(if i wanna work here)... blablabla..but i still think malaysia is the best. u just can't buy the tranquility, happiness, and comfy that u get from ur hometown...
i'm definitely not going to stay and work here, no matter how much money i could earn as a doctor here..
i'll come back n BERBAKTI UNTUK NEGARA.

rational thinker said...

The answer for the $64,000 question "why all our scholarships are targetted at popular courses such as engineering, medicine, accounting, law (and of coz Islamic studies)? " boils down to the idea that most of our decision-makers are:

a) Ignorant - they have no idea that there are so much more out there..including humanities, physical sciences (physics, biology etc), social sciences etc.

b) Lazy - they can't be bothered to take care of so many different type of people. Stereotyping means they can easily streamline people into "IT geeks, Engineers, Accountants etc".

c) A lil of both - this is my choice. What do you think?

Anonymous said...

yeah, I agree, Malaysia scholarship creates mediocre student, and they are ignorant of almost everything, also they are ignorant of the fields that students are pursuing,
for example, my friend who was doing her Phd in Chemistry at Nottingham under UPM scholarship, did not get results from her research work for almost two years, well thats the nature of chemistry research and almost all research, u dunt get results every week u know, she got a warning from JPA stating that she did not progress, I mean, how stupid they are, in science, youll never know when u get results, u cant put a fixed period to get results, esp in the fields that involves waiting and waiting for things to come out, some enzymes need months to give something, for example, so she was kicked out from her schoalrship and had to pay every penny, luckily, she found a job in UK to pay off her education,
and now happily working in UK to start her phd all over again, stupid stupid stupid..

malaysia is no future country 1 said...
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