Break or not?

I must first thank Leonard for his valuable compliment. I am not sure, but his compliment seem to reflect that he agrees with my point of view though I can never confirm. In any case, it is important that he agrees with me. Leonard, being one of the students enjoying (or should I say sufferings?) the merits of the Gifted Education, and also one who have experience the mainstream education almost in its entirety, would be the best judge as to how the two programmes differ. When I say differ, I don’t mean content, I am referring to the opportunities they offer, the assumptions they make (Stuff like ‘all geppers must be from rich families’).

I probably be talking about the GEP issue some other time because I don’t have the information on this programme and personally, I have set out to write something about breaking bonds. It is inevitable to raise the issue of bond breaking when it comes to discussing scholarships. Previously, I also mentioned briefly about how rich people, may decide to break bonds anyway, after their studies. I would say, to have bond breaking becoming ‘common’ in a sense, is a breakthrough for Singaporeans. It is, I believe not a question or loyalty, but promise. Those bond breakers breach their contracts, fine with that, since their are willing to give the compensation. In the eyes of law, there is balance, because both parties agreed on the terms initially. Of course, it is never desired for any form of contract to be broken for most parties, since both sides are stakeholders in a way or two.

Why do I say that this is a breakthrough? It simply shows that our ‘local talents’ are now being valued. At times, if not usually, adhering to the bond would bring down their value. For bond breakers who alliance with MNCs to free themselves, they have gained some form of recognition that makes them worth the price stated for compensation. Their value increase with the breaking of the bond. Many employers prefer freshmen not because of their cost of hire, but the very fact that they do not have any pre-perceptions of the industry that will misled their decision or affect their view of certain actions of the company. Most importantly, they have the passion than a graduate who have undergone ‘training’ at a statutory board for, say, 3 – 5 years. It is important that these organisations tied to the scholarship holders through the bonds do not extinguish this passion, which they usually do.

But how? How do I know that their passion is gone? And is passion that important, you see, work is still work? Well, some may think so, they probably value the money, for ‘work is only a means to end and not the end’, to use a distorted clause from the existentialist. Jim Collins mentioned in Good to Great that if your company is only going to think about growth, money making, profitting from whatever you are working on, you can only become good, if not bad – you never become great. And ultimately, you don’t spin as much money as those great companies do. Passion, according to him, is essential and it is not a individual concept, it must involve almost all in the executive and management. This is why he devoted almost a chapter to explain why every organisation should look into where they can have fun before plunging into the market.

Passion is gone? Or is it not? I am not sure, having made the claim above. But how many scholarship holder manage to climb into MNCs and succeed in the global economy? Oh well, that’s unfair to debate on because most scholarship fund studies in law, medical, or perhaps sociology, less with economics. Even with economics, that guy out of ten probably decides not to enter the financial sector. So the arguement stops there, you got to probe further yourself.

I am not propagating the idea that we should break whatever bond, regardless or the nature, the compensation required. Let’s be pragmatic, these bond conditions and stuff are used to restrict the ‘poor’ scholars, with an additional quality – he would not be able to win over the big corporations to sponser any compensation for him. Then you think again, you such a person be getting the scholarship in the first place? Probably not. I think this sudden influx of scholarship ‘new criteria’: Charisma, Outstanding in presentation or style, and most importantly, I have raise this very disappointing point – they do look for looks, is the source of all these problems. We can never be objective about looks unless we conduct the interview with a cloth or something between the interviewers and interviewees. We have to clear up all these mess created by the lame criteria, because it appears that all these qualities they are looking for simply makes up celebrities. Then we’ll have celebrity doctors, celebrity economists, celebrity sociologists. Think about it, that’s not too bad – the telephone companies can hold a ‘Professional Idol’ to dig more money from naive teens, who are now enjoy the greatest perk of technology – the handphone.

And that’s the whole point of group interviews! They select relatively, never considering certain unique characteristic of anyone in the room that they might be able to tap on. Don’t be mistaken, this are all opinions, for I have never once stepped into a scholarship interview of any form, or even watched a video on group interviewing. I don’t know the techniques, the information involved, and the insiders stuff. What I know, is a combination of the obvious fact, and psychology. Think, how many times have you judged a person without considering his looks? That’s virtually a human impossibility. Face it, we are never objective. And being subjective is good, for that is what made me write all these.

Once again, I am unable to finish what I want to say, I probably continue some time later. In any case, readers might find this post bothersome to read because the thoughts are hardly crystalised and I seem to be spewing random points, jumping from here to there, without a read central theme.


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