By the end of September, a heavy flow of Bruneian students will make their way towards their respective educational institutions abroad after qualifying and achieving various scholarship programmes offered by the government or private institutions. They will be on their way to fulfil their lifelong dreams of a high standard education abroad with a different culture and way of life. I congratulate them and wish them good luck for their studies. But I write this article not for those who are going, but to those who have been left behind.
Some scholarship students may just want to fly off to the U.K. and experience life away from their families
Almost every student in the Brunei education system dreams of achieving a scholarship once they finish their A-Levels. Attaining the required grades not only for the abroad universities’ entry requirements, but also for the scholarship requirements set by the Ministry of Education. I feel sympathetic to those who have worked hard to attaining good grades but did not have the required grades to fulfil their higher education ambitions. In the end, the ones that did not get selected will continue their studies at a university in Brunei or to other educational institutions in Brunei. The ones left behind may feel inferior or not qualified enough compared to those who were lucky to be selected. But all is not lost!
I myself am one of those who have been left behind. Living life abroad since birth and finally arriving in Brunei at the age of 18, I grew up constantly leaving friends and schools behind to get assigned to live in one country after another. I never really understood the feeling of being left behind as I was always the one leaving. But now I am in a situation where all of my classmates in a university in Brunei will leave me behind to complete their studies abroad. It took me a while to understand and deal with the prospect of being left behind after not being selected for the scholarship. In the end, I figured that this is another turning point in my life, a lesson in life to make me realise that sometimes in life you don’t always get what you want and that even though things may seem unfair, know that there is a reason for everything.
Students long for a high standard education abroad with a different culture and way of life
Bright and smart students are sent abroad every year to further their studies, but not all as I found out that there are those who choose to stay in Brunei even though they are more than qualified to fly off. A friend of mine who also happens to be a co-worker decided to stay in Brunei to do the course he wants to do instead of accepting a scholarship that would enrol him in a course that he doesn’t want to do. I admire those who choose to do what they have a passion for instead of choosing to do something just for the sake of going abroad and not thinking about what they want in life. I have heard of friends of friends who chose to do a degree that is totally opposite to what they have a desire for just to fly off to the U.K. and experience life away from their families, and the ones left behind were not only wilful enough to do what they have a passion for, but also attained higher scholarship qualification grades than those who flew off.
Prospective students should choose wisely in selecting the right degree for them. It’s one thing to enrol yourself in a course that you aren’t good in, it’s another if you end up squandering that government scholarship where it could’ve been given to someone more deserving. Overseas students have a duty to represent Brunei in a good manner. Do not stray off the path towards educational success. I urge overseas students to not take their scholarships for granted as it is a huge investment of the government’s resources and of your time and effort. A lot of expectations are placed onto them, and it would be a really big disappointment not only for the country but also to those who look up to them.
Staying in Brunei is not the downfall of a student’s educational progress, but merely a different route in achieving academic success. My lecturer revealed that the only difference between continuing your education either in the U.K. or Brunei is that it’s much colder over there and people talk in a different way. Other than that, the education standards of institutions in both countries adhere to the international standard. Why waste money flying off to another country that teaches the same courses under the international standard as they do in Brunei? My lecturer also wondered, on a lighter note, why a student would rather do five to six hours worth of classes only to arrive back to their hostel to cook their own food and wash their laundry after a tiring day of attending classes.
Sure, the facilities may be better abroad than in Brunei and the scenery and culture may be beautiful and interesting, but does that really determine a student would do better over there than over here? I hear about scholarship students barely passing their courses or having to repeat a semester or a year because they flunked their end of year exams. To me this is unacceptable. We look up to scholarship students as an example of those who are bright and smart. Instead they are given a second chance. Even though the students in a university in Brunei may not have attained enough grades to grant them a scholarship, the ones that were given the opportunity to fly off should not take it for granted. The examples that I have given of misdirected scholarship students are not meant to discredit all the scholarship students. I would like to state that I am not describing or generalising scholarship students as a whole. I am just informing students that getting a scholarship has its perks, but the consequences of making the wrong decisions will not only affect the students themselves, but also to their family and nation.
The scenery and culture may be beautiful and interesting, but does that really determine a student would do better over there than over here?
I am not criticising the government or the Ministry of Education’s policy of selecting and providing scholarships to deserving students. And I am not discrediting the efforts of Bruneian students that are currently studying abroad. In fact, I am proud that they are representing Brunei as an educated and patriotic society. I am just admiring the fact that there are those who stay true to who they are and what they want to be in life. They sacrifice the prospect of going abroad to fulfil their dreams, not their desires.
To those who have been left behind, do not lose hope. Instead, be head strong and know that continuing your education in Brunei would only raise the quality of education and service that Brunei educational institutions offer. The people of Brunei, along with me, are proud of each and every student whether they are in Brunei or abroad. The knowledge and wisdom that we students attain would contribute to the development of our society. Local students are the future of this growing and developing nation.