Meet John, your ordinary high school buddy. The only thing that sets him apart is his naughty smirk that he wears and his fetish for tickles and any round and hairy objects. Not to forget, his witty thinking skills and mind similar to Steve Jobs with a little dash of Elon Musk (he possibly idolises and mimics their thinking after all).
Take a good look at the signboard below
If John were given a choice to be rich or poor, which will he choose to be? A rational human being would choose the path towards the right or towards accumulating wealth. Wealth is pretty much subjective to each and every one of us, but we can all agree that it is a helpful tool to achieve better life quality – be it through possessing a bright summer cottage in Malibu or simply owning a warm terrace house in a friendly neighbourhood. Straightaway John has set his general goal towards enriching the quality of life; let us proceed to a phase which some 17 year-old Malaysians may also come across – should John pursue tertiary education or start his own empire?
Now, juggling between choices and weighing for the more lucrative decision – which path should John delve into? First, John needs to investigate each outcome and decide upon the brighter outlook. In this case, he chooses to pursue a degree majoring in Business and Finance at London School of Economics (hey, pretty cliché for us Malaysians). After three long years running on Red Bulls and plenty of sleepless nights, John graduates with first class honours! And so, like many hackneyed fairy tales, John meets his success not long after his graduation as he secures a venture capital with a start-up company based in London. But did he make the right choice in the first place? – maybe he did but maybe he would have achieved it a lot earlier if he chose to jump right into business!
But did you realise that John and many others have had the luxury of choice?
While we are enjoying this privilege (often without noticing or having much appreciation), there is still a large proportion of Malaysians who are not born with such privilege and are not blessed with such comfort. There has been an immense social retrogression in every aspect of well-being among the most vulnerable section of the population – students and children. Malaysia was ranked 39th in the World Inequality Ranking (source: World Databank), faring slightly better than Mexico which stood at 32nd. Now, think of five people that you would have at your top secret party or gathering. What if I tell you that one of them did not complete his or her secondary school education and now left stranded among the unemployed (and no he or she does not own a business like John). That is the reality today – one out of five Malaysian children fail to complete their secondary school education (source: Teach for Malaysia).
Allow me to introduce a concept in economics (which we shall not ponder deeper because I have little desire to bore you) called the cycle of poverty – “Set of factors or events by which poverty, once started, is likely to continue unless there is outside intervention” (Ruby K. Payne). We may have overlooked the seriousness of this matter but the fact is that the vicious cycle of social disparity and education inequality is very real and is happening as you retweet and share this blog post (which I hope, pretty please for the sake of awareness). The problem is here to linger and to bother our conciousness like an uncanny devil whispering to our ears asking “What have you done to change this?” in a very eerie way. Unless we intervene, the uncanny devil will keep whispering to our ears.
Now, a blogpost is not complete without a quote at the end – “Divided, there is little we can do” – John F Kennedy.