I have always perceived education as a right of every person. Ideally, it is the responsibility of governing bodies to plan mechanisms which ensure everyone’s access to education. Not only that, these mechanisms are complex entities which are used to tackle other crucial issues in the education system. Seeing how one of our local universities has went up 13 ranks in the 2016 QS World University Ranking, it is safe to say that education in Malaysia is improving and is going in the right direction.
Growing up, my parents always had high expectations of me. Through out the years, I had worked very hard in order to please my parents and to ensure my place in one of the best universities. So to me, success is solemnly based on pure hard work and that those who didn’t make it is simply either lazy or do not have what it takes. With meritocracy being the new code across many assessment bodies, it is obvious that this is to assure that golden opportunities are championed by the best while also raising the standards high even for the underachievers.
Recently, I found out that I am quite mistaken. There are students out there whom did not managed to pursue their studies unlike I did for reasons very different from what I imagined. Most of them actually did not know why they need to further their studies let alone do very well in them. Some are also oblivious to the many choices they have and the various routes they can take to do that. The rest? They lack any access to opportunities which were never limited for students like me from the urban areas. In other words, education has become a privilege and no longer a person’s right. When a group of people is given better resources and options while the other is given merely the bare minimum, how can we expect a fair competition for the students to begin with? Yes, there has been changes in education policies to solve issues within the system which could increase the reach out of education to rural places. Yet, I would like to argue that it is still lacking and inefficient.
When I first heard of this, I simply thought that it was just an assumption or an over-dramatisation of the state of our education used by organisations to gain the public’s sympathy. However, I am not the one to rule out something without seeing it for myself. So out of curiosity, I volunteered anyway just to see the legitimacy of the claims made. To my surprise, the experience was not what I expected. I was shocked to see Form 4 students with very poor grasp of english and any basic soft skills. Some of them even go as far to saying that they have no intentions to continue their studies, period. What’s more disappointing to me is also discovering how the students are helpless to this simply because of the lack of support from anyone around them. Having to deal with the already difficult conditions at home, the students lacklustre the passion to study in school.
I was taken aback by all the struggles that they are facing despite their age. It would be rational to assume that they might also be problematic students, but no, they are not. They wanted to do well in their studies, they wanted to be better, they wanted to fight for their life and they just need some directions, some inspiration. Upon realising the reality that we are facing, I decided to contribute more by involving myself in organising these programmes and do whatever I can to help inspire these kids.
Our efforts, however honourable they may be would be nothing if people are not aware of this condition and no necessary actions are taken by responsible parties to address this issue. In conclusion, education should always be accessible to everyone and it is our responsibility to work towards achieving that.