OF SCHOLARS AND SCHOLARSHIPS

Who is a scholar? Can everyone be a scholar? Can everyone who has passed a competitive pre-university examination be deemed a scholar in its strictest sense?

The Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary of Current English defines a scholar as a “person who studies an academic subject deeply”. Can everyone who has passed a pre-university examination be called a scholar who is able to study an academic subject deeply in a university?

Many people believe so. They are the many misguided and misinformed people who believe so. Every parent wants the best for his child. There is no harm in that. But can every parent expect his child to be a scholar when that child doesn’t even exhibit an iota of scholarly bearing?

Sometimes, parents expect too much from their children. Some children may be better suited for vocational studies as they are not academically inclined.

By insisting their young to enrol for academic programmes in a public or a private university, some parents may be damaging their children’s ability to earn decent wages in the future. With the ever increasing number of unemployed graduates in many countries, parents should seriously question why this phenomenon exists.

In the current global economic uncertainty, parents will be foolish to spend money blindly on their children who are not fit to be scholars. Parents need to do some soul-searching if their children are really capable of becoming scholars who will one day graduate from universities to be gainfully-employed in the working world.

Instead of academic studies which will render the majority of the young unemployed and which will drain the finances, parents should help their children acquire SKILLS that will be of real help in earning a living for their young.

Governments may be well advised not to dish out scholarships to every Tom, Dick and Harry or Jill, Jane and Joan freely. It behoves a government to test the suitability of a candidate seeking a scholarship for further academic studies. Most of all, a government needs to send out a clear message that a candidate who has passed a competitive pre-university examination is not automatically entitled to a scholarship for further academic studies.

In addition, even those who are eligible for scholarships based on a certain set of criteria need to be tested further if they possess the right qualities of a scholar to pursue academic subjects deeply. Some of those right qualities are competence in English in all its four skills (if the candidate is pursuing tertiary studies delivered in the medium of instruction called English) and subtlety of thought. Testing these future scholars rigorously will enable a government to foresee to what extent its funds will yield at the end of their academic studies. Furthermore, the depth of knowledge acquired by a scholar during his academic studies in a university will propel him, his society and his country to greater heights in all aspects in the long run.

Funds for any endeavour don’t come easily these days. Therefore, a government must be wise to invest money in people who will fulfil the role of scholars in the truest sense.