Righting the Wrongs of Inequality through Education Opportunity
Meet Johnathan. He grew up in one of the poorest city in Malaysia. Johnathan was very excited as he received a letter of acceptance into one of the local universities. He never thought he would celebrate today – a day several of his childhood friends didn’t have the chance to celebrate because they were forced to work as to help their parents. Some didn’t know about universities while some just lack the inspiration to get into one. A few unfortunate ones got involved with the wrong set of people and were tangled with the traps of social problems.
Johnathan and his friends were just as smart and talented as their suburban counterparts, but their schools were under-resourced – due to a geographically and socially unequal society – and couldn’t support student development the way the staff and family knew their children deserved. As a result, the students lack the inspiration and the awareness of the opportunities and the choices surrounding them. Lack of inspiration and awareness should not be confused with lack of intelligence. This is incredibly unfortunate as maybe one of Johnathan friends is holding the key to the cure of cancer or a new renewable technology. Another potential unrealised.
Today, as we witness the latest global economic downturn which adds serious pain to individuals across the world and significantly risks furthering the gap between haves and have-nots, in developed and developing societies alike, education is perhaps the most critical means of improving welfare of disadvantaged populations for improving social justice and economic productivity. As such, education should not be viewed to be solely a burden of the governments and education sector alone, but is better positioned as a core concern of the entire community; you and me included.
Although this all might sound far from home, this is real and happening in our beloved country Malaysia. While we might be enjoying or maybe dreading our ‘education’, there is still a large proportion of Malaysians who did not get the chance to be blessed with such privilege. It might be surprising to some but one out of five Malaysian children fails to complete their secondary school education and most of them are from rural areas. Adding to the facts that the proficiency of the English language is significantly wide between urban and rural schools – just adds to the many hurdles for these kids to succeed. Even if their proficiencies are on par, the rural students lack the self-belief to use English confidently.
Ruby K. Payne, the author of A Framework for Understanding Poverty introduced an economic concept called the cycle of poverty – “Set of factors or events by which poverty, once started, is likely to continue unless there is outside intervention”. Similarly, to Newton’s First Law of Motion, there is a need for an external force to reverse this trend. There might be a time when we questioned the authority and the society for allowing this to happened but maybe today is the day we ask ourselves, what have we done to put an end to this? Are we still going to watch this from the side-line or are we ready to get our hands dirty? Perhaps the reason we are born with two hands, is to have one to help ourselves and the other one to help others.
Joining the Kalsom Movement has been one the most eye opening experience of my life. I joined the movement back in 2014 at Kedah as a facilitator with an intention to teach but I ended up learning more than I ever taught. I will always remember one of our session called ‘Joe-Heart-ry Window’ where we open up and share our personal hurdles in life. It was an emotional night and not there was this one boy in my group who was too shy to speak that night. I let him speak to Ollie, one of our International Facilitator in Bahasa. As he poured his heart out, I saw Ollie nodding empathetically. His eyes wells up as if he understood every single word. It was then I realised that we don’t even need to understand one another to help one another, we just need to be human.
I have met a lot of new friends who are passionate of this cause and although we are accused to be too clingy at time, I love it! Come, join us in The Kalsom Movement as we fight against education inequality. We strongly believe in the power of inspiration and being the very best in everything that you do. Together, we can make a difference.
If not now, when? If not us, who?