Imagine Yourself in Our Shoes: The Road to Higher Education
by Iffah Muzri
“You cannot do this to them, these are my people.
You cannot hack away the horizon in front of their eyes." -Gwendolyn MacEwen
It’s frustrating— a huge hassle really—getting a higher education to get qualifications to get proper jobs. Looking left and right, my friends are all busyingand stressing themselves out with their studies, pushing their capabilities to their very limits. Every single one of them is fighting to get the scholarships that have been so enticingly placed on a silver platter before us, just slightly out of our reaches. And then, there are also those students of course, who have simply given up due to the intense competition. The struggle seems insignificant to many; competition for prestigious scholarships happen all the time, but, what a lot of people rarely understand and see is how difficult it is for us, as students, to cope with all the changes presented to us in these recent years.
Day by day, the criteria for scholarships may remain same, but due to competition, students have to keep raising the bar to be recognised for scholarships. For example, the requirements for the MOE scholarship in 2008 required a student to have at least a minimum of an A-level grade of at least BCC/CCC or a minimum IB result of grade 35 points. With the population increase from roughly 336,000 in 2000 to 409,000 in 2012, there is a high demand of people trying to apply to universities. It is without question that universities would raise the bar to limit student entries as well.
Can you really say that students have it easy?
I speak up on behalf of some of my fellow friends when I say that we absolutely detest it when the adults seem to underestimate and undermine the difficulty of getting into good universities in this time and age. Every single day, students are struggling and continuing the tedious routine of attending school as if we were mindless brainwashed zombies labouring away. And at the end of the day, the fruits of our achievements may not even be recognized as a whole and all our hard work goes down the drain, all for nothing, zilch, nada, because there will always be those who are better, so the just average students are seemingly susceptible to be compared to the exceptional above average students.
I don’t see how that’s justified.
Yes, life is not fair, nor will it ever be, and I may sound like a whining child, but I feel the need to express this. It’s unfair, it isn’t fair, and it’s just not fair! What isn’t fair? Well, the fact that back in 2008, when SPN-21 was first implemented, nobody—or at least only a minority—saw any negative repercussions from the newly introduced program. It was seen as an effective way of selecting those that had the capacity and capability to adapt to a higher level of education. However, my batch is currently suffering from the numerous amounts of student intakes. My batch does not only hold the last batch of PMB takers, but also the first batch of the SPN-21 Express Students.
Rumours have also spread that the quota for scholarship offers is being cut.
If the number of available scholarships is seemingly negatively correlated with tuition fees of universities abroad and UBD entrance requirements, what will happen to the average students? We shouldn’t be told that we had simply wasted 16 years of our lives just to find out that, after laboriously climbing that metaphorical education ladder, our efforts meant nothing and we have to be pushed back down to the bottom. In the long run, that fall will ultimately harm us.
Does no one stop to think about who will be most affected by this? Currently, it’s an all-out battle trying to get the top position in school, fighting tooth and nail just to be able to qualify to even be considered to apply for a scholarship. What happens to those that didn’t get a scholarship, that couldn’t afford to be sent to universities, and those qualified and worthy of scholarships but were denied for the “simple fact that they were not chosen”? What happens to the student drop-outs? Where do they go? What can we do?
There have been so many questions raised and by right, we deserve some answers. But the question that rings clear in my head is: what will happen to the future generation of our country, when the very youths that make up this community are deprived of the right to continue further education through no fault of our own?
To conclude, I would like to open up the eyes of the people to the everyday struggles faced by students everywhere. Steps should be taken to overcome the problems we face. Revoking opportunities to receive a good scholarship is not the way. Yes, it may be risky to give out scholarships as some students might not abide by the terms agreed to, but it should be noted that no one student is the same. One student is not representative of the other students our nation has raised. Therefore, the mistake of one should not be regarded as the mistake of all. There are plenty of brilliant minds here in Brunei —don’t take away the hope of a brighter future for our nation by taking away the hope of its youth.
by Iffah Muzri
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