At the last Friday prayer, one of the people who I always bump into every Friday but never really got to know well other than on a nod and smile basis, came over to me. He was asking me where I worked as he saw me sitting on stage at ICC when he was receiving his diploma. He was in his 30s and we chatted about why he is studying now when he already has a family to look after. He was very happy to receive his diploma trying to make up for his youth when he did not do very well academically and he was very glad to be given the chance to study again.
What struck me are two things. The first is the determination of one person trying to make life better for himself by taking the sacrifice to continue his studying. He had undergone the 'school of regret' or 'sekolah menyesal' as most older people would say. He obviously saw that the future to a better life is best by taking up further studies. It was harder as he had to compete with much younger students though at the same time he had the maturity to do it. He was embarrased to be studying so late in his career but to me that's the beautiful bit, age does not matter. What is impotant is that he recognised it and is willing to overcome his handicap. At the same time, we should also help more people like him - those who are willing to go back to school to better themselves.
The second thing that struck me is our nation's education system and our traditionalist approach towards education. This is not the first time I have spoken about it. Though I am not an expert in this matter unlike some bloggers I have to defer to, who are much more opiniated about the subject matter. All I have is the experience of being a member of the Vocational and Technical Education Council as well as Academic Accreditation Council sub-committee on Management and Accountancy qualifications. But what I can sense from the traditional educationalist in the secretariats is that it will be a cold day in July before they stopped considering that it is not necessary for us to continue with our traditional schooling of 6 years primary, 3 year lower secondary, 2 year upper secondary, 2 years post secondary before completing university. GCE O levels and A levels are must haves, without which, they maybe unable to consider your univeristy's qualifications. Even though I am a product of the traditional education system and did very well, I also pitied those who did not have the academic inclination but go through on the trade route. This has always been one of the biggest issue that we have to go through at practically every meeting - the recognition of trade routes.
Being an insider, other people would say I should not have much difficulty in changing policies, but I also have to convince other members and generally have to defer to the council's collective decision. We require pressure from outside and this is where blog readers can come in to help spread the knowledge. I have said this before but to me it's worthwhile repeating - we should all be more concerned with our education system. Our country is too small for us to squander the few qualified people we have. For us to be too choosy may cause problems. But for us to be too liberal may also not be too good. A balancing act has to be achieved. Your role is to help highlight those issues.