June 11, 2016
Education is a Game Changer for the Individual and Country
by Dr. Tan Eng Bee
Every time I read of individuals who pursue an education, regardless of whether to better their career or gain knowledge, I am captivated and inspired.
As one who believes in lifelong education, entering lecture halls for the past thirty years remains a great opportunity to better myself, not to prove I am a learned man or to add another degree to my name but rather to better myself to respond and to understand our environment and the world at large a little better. It is also for this reason that I want to offer my knowledge or expertise to teach, help, equip or counsel or to be a catalyst for growth and change in organisations, the market place or even in the counselling room.
In everyone’s mind is the conscious desire to make a difference and to be a master of our destiny but without knowledge many have crumbled physically and mentally, and in most cases, spiritually as well. Many die prematurely upon retirement as their brains no longer actively think or respond to situations. Finally, disease sets in to take their lives.
I read in a holy book that knowledge supersedes that of acquiring wealth. Without knowledge, a nation cannot progress but declines economically, while social issues regress to a point where the consequences are painful if left unchecked. I am reminded of the story of King Solomon, who was asked what he would want as a blessing from a higher being. King Solomon in his greatness in ruling a powerful nation surrounded by unfriendly neighbours, did not ask for gold or silver, but wisdom.
Any form of education is never a waste of time and energy but an investment that brings a host of opportunities. It is also a chance to serve an organisation, society and nation at large, not necessarily in monetary terms but as a form of giving back to society.
Education is a catalyst to bring change to our community, without which, we would be trapped in old schools of thought that stagnate growth and stunt progress in the long run as experienced by some nations we know.
Poverty and lost opportunities are the resulting end in many Asian, African and South American countries where education is despised or ignored and deemed unimportant while political or business agendas, bread and butter issues and having a roof over their heads are more urgent and important.
Unless there is a concerted effort politically to empower the masses with knowledge to change their status quo, the nation will suffer from a lack of knowledgeable men and women and will continue the cycle of being impoverished and ignorant thereby leaving ourselves open to be exploited and trampled upon by others.
The news of Shigemi Hirata who earned his degree at the ripe old age of 96 from Kyoto University and is considered the world oldest graduate should inspire those in their 70s, 80s and 90s to change their life destiny as well. Consider Fred Butler who at the age of 106 received his high school diploma from Beverly High School USA as their oldest graduate. How many would have even thought of going back to their books while they were in their 40s or 50s, much less while in their 100s?
Consider our own former beauty queen, Dr Soo Wincci, a singer and actress, who despite her busy commitments took time to study and received her PhD in Business Administration at the age of 31. Dr Soo changed her destiny by doing what others would rather forego at her age and with her fame. In Dr Soo’s words, the journey was long and arduous as it took her six years. To me, no venture, no gain. Nothing is worth pursuing if it does not cost you anything.
To me, education is a worthy life-changing experience for anyone who wants to better himself in any field. Education is a priceless non-commodity that is permanent and cannot be stolen.
I am happy that our government is giving free education to our children from Standard 1 right to Form 6. Those pursuing a tertiary education are entitled to the 1Malaysia Book Vouchers of RM250 each. I hope every student uses this opportunity to educate themselves and carve their futures with a diploma or degree.
In short, education is your tool to institute change and influence on society and the nation and everyone should therefore pursue it.