The Tale of Two Students: The Reason Why The Education System Needs To Be Reformed

Recently a number of students within the ET Ideas team got their exam results from their respective colleges. Some did exceptionally well and some did above average.

Personally, I have never been keen in college/ university exam Results and will always give the “duh” expression when people tell me of it. Why? Because I have met enough people in my life to see that college or university education never really determines one’s success in life. Does it help? Yes and No. Yes, at times it does and at times it hinders one’s true potential. Are you puzzled by my answer? Let me explain.

Lets take two students that I am currently working with as an example. The first is studious. She loves studying. She is highly intelligent and can absorb information well and speak well. However her CGPA couldn’t cross the threshold where student loans can be converted into scholarship. She has a RM30,000 loan that she had taken to go to this college to get her degree. Her goal was to get first class honours and get enough CGPA to convert her loan to scholarship. What she lacked was the ability to focus her thoughts on goals. Basically – goal setting and achieving. Myself and some of the senior ET Ideas members worked with her on this. Finally she achieved her goals. She got first class honours and got enough CGPA to convert her loan to scholarship. She received plenty congratulatory messages etc from numerous people. She is basically a rockstar now in terms of doing well in exams and I am sure that many students and parents who know of her success will ask her advice on how she did it.

Let me bring your attention to another student I am working with. She is an average student. However she is not the studious type. She struggled hard to get her above average results. She too wanted to get the scholarship and did the best that she can. However, studying isn’t her forte and answering exam questions is simply not her thing. She loves learning opposite to studying. She is the hands on type. She learns by experience.

Although I knew her chances to achieve her goal to get her scholarship was small, the team and I went on to help her with her studies using goal setting methods. Her results were definitely far better than what her normal results would be.

But again, it did not qualify her do get first class honours or scholarship. As such she still would have to repay her RM 30,000 student loan. Right now she doesn’t feel so good about herself and feels she has failed herself and did not live up to the expectations of her parents and the people around her.

Incidentally both of them go to the same college. After this, the college is going to honour the first class students and they will be praised for their academic achievements etc. Well, the rest who manage to get a degree would just get that and that’s it.

Looking at the above scenario, you may say there is nothing wrong with it since those who got the first class honours deserve it and the scholarship. The others are just not good enough for it so they didn’t deserve the accolades and the scholarships. They should work harder to do better in their lives.

True….. but that is not the whole story…… let me share with you a few more important details that was not included in the above story…..

The student who struggled and failed to get the scholarship. Let me tell you more about her. She is one of the most hard working individual that I have ever met in my life. She has a passion for mass communication, specifically in the area of broadcasting, video editing and producing. Her video editing and concepts and ideas are world class. Her short films were nominated for global film festivals. She had done fabulous editing works on music videos and corporate videos. She is a co-host for a local popular talk show. She is a part of a local produced show where she interviews ordinary people producing extra ordinary results. She edits the production. One of the famous personalities she and her co-producer has interviewed is Dato Dr Faridah Merican and a number of other well known personalities.

This young lady that the education system has decided is not qualified for first class honours and scholarship, actually holds a 5% share in a local upcoming online vodcast channel!

The main owners of the channel recognize her talents and abilities and ensured that she is a part of the team. Her in-depth knowledge and experience with regards to her field is mind blowing. Even during her internship and practical coursework, she ended up doing most of the work as she had more experience than others in her course….. even her lecturers.

There is no doubt in my mind that in time, she will be one of the greatest editors and producers of shows, documentaries, music videos, corporate videos and even films. She is just 23 years of age now.

Now, coming back to the other girl who got the first class honours and scholarship. She is 22 this year. The truth is – she has nothing else except that. By saying that, I am not taking anything away from her. She did well and got what she deserved.

When I see her now, she reminds me of one of ET Ideas early associates, Rammya. She too was an honours student who achieved first class honours and managed to turn her student loan to scholarship. This happened about 6 years back. At that time she felt she was on top of the world. She thought she got everything figured out. Only when she went into the work environment did she see the huge disconnect with what she studied and what was the reality of the working world. It took her about two years of working with me to get rid of the know-it-all attitude which came from the false perception that if you do well in college, it means you will do well in life too. She began to face the harsh realities of life. However, through determination and hard work she managed to climb up in life. She doesn’t have any loans, has substantial amount of savings and investments. She is currently the CEO of ET Boost. It is an upcoming online channel that produces talk shows and short documentaries. Apart from that, ET Boost also provides video production services, photography, social media marketing and so much more.

ET Boost Team during ET Boost Studio Launch (From left to right: Edward, Saranjit, Nicky, Elango, Rammya, Joyce, Thiviya)

When I look at Rammya’s former course mates, those who did as well as her and also those who didn’t, I truly feel sad. A number are jobless. Some are working part time. Some are doing nothing related to what they studied. Most, after so many years, are still struggling. However, they are phenomenal people with so much of talent. A number of them I have met personally. They are truly brilliant and with the right guidance, they can be truly successful and contribute back to society positively. Even now I know the ET Ideas team will be able to help them to bring these talents out. But I also know that it will be difficult for them to seek help. The reason is they probably are already disillusioned with life.

Reading my posts on FB and my blogs many people assume that I am against the education system. But I am not. I feel it needs to be seriously reformed from ground up. It needs to be personalized and not standardized. It needs to allow more creativity. It needs to have more essence of collaboration than competition. It needs visionary and experienced teachers who are paid well and so much more.

Coming back to the topic at hand about the two girls. The education system has created a scenario that is totally absurd and unfair.

The girl that got the exceptional academic qualifications is getting all the accolades and feeling on top of the world when the truth is she has actually achieved nothing else in her life. She needs to somehow be made aware that it is good she has done well but all this does not mean she knows everything and it does not in anyway determine her future.  Just like how i worked with Rammya. This is actually more difficult to do than it appears. This girl at least has somehow kept her ego in check and is humble but many high achievers are not.

And the girl who has achieved so much in her life yet didn’t do well enough in her exam is feeling down because she has “failed”. Not only that, she has a RM 30,000 loan to settle. Adding to that is the feeling that “she is not good enough”, looked down by people around her and made to feel that all her hard work and effort and success that she had achieved outside the academic world didn’t mean anything. Personally I feel this is totally unfair. Not only should her study loan be changed to a scholarship but she should also be rewarded for the many achievements that she has achieved. However, the system does not recognize this. Now, my team and I will be working with her to build back her shattered confidence.

Both girls have the ET Ideas team to get them straightened out. We have done this before with others in the team. As such, they are in good hands. They will turn out fine.

But how about the others?

Love & Light

Elango Thiyagu

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