Wan needs an education
|Zan Azlee is a documentary filmmaker, journalist, writer, New Media practitioner and lecturer. He runs Fat Bidin Media www.fatbidin.com|
JUNE 8 — I have a friend who goes by the name Wan (not his real name of course as he doesn’t want me to disclose it).
He is much younger than me and I got to know him through the course of working in the television industry. He’s a good guy and I started hiring him for my projects.
He seems eager to learn as well and was constantly asking questions and advice about the industry and how to better himself in his work.
When I first got to know him, he had just graduated with a diploma from a local university and he was very proud of that fact.
Wan doesn’t come from a very well-to-do family. He told me that he worked part time to put himself through school, and it took him longer than usual to graduate.
Of course, that didn’t matter to me. Here was a guy who struggled and put in as much effort as he could to achieve something he wanted.
One day, he told me that he wanted to further his studies and get his bachelor’s degree. I, of course, told him to go for it.
And so he enrolled in the same local university where he did his diploma. It wasn’t much of a problem for him to be accepted.
And soon he was going to class and working at the same time. Much of the work he did was for me and I cut him some slack so he could also concentrate on his studies.
A year or two went by and we were still constantly working together. One day, I asked Wan how classes were going and when did he think he was going to graduate.
It was a bit of a shocker when he told me that he had decided to drop out and just concentrate on working since he felt that TV production didn’t really need him to have a degree.
I told him it was a bad idea and it doesn’t matter if you are in an industry where paper qualifications aren’t important, because education is something very important.
After pressing him, he finally buckled and told me the truth. Studying and working is quite tough and he was planning to apply for a PTPTN loan to pay for his degree.
And, to make matters complicated, he was considered a mature student and was planning to getting married. He also had to support his elderly parents.
With all of this going on, Wan was worried that his financial situation might not allow him to be able to pay back his PTPTN loan once he finished studying.
Since his number one priority was to support his family, he made the difficult decision to sacrifice his formal education.
This I thought was a shame. It also made me wonder if the problem was because Wan wasn’t prioritising correctly, or was it the system.
I happen to think that education is a basic human right. My opinion is that the state needs to provide free education to all its citizens who qualify and deserve it.
Of course, it can always be argued that the money to be channelled for education if it was given free to the citizens could be so useful in other areas.
But if Malaysia is to develop into a knowledge-based economy, then we need to prioritise what the country’s most important needs are and pump in the investment.
Right now, so many parties are politicising the PTPTN and free education issue. But does it actually affect these parties? I know for a fact, it affects my friend Wan.
* The views expressed here are the personal opinion of the columnist.