22 August 2007

From the mouth of a scholar

You just can't write these stuff up.

The Straits Times
Aug 17, 2007

President's Scholar follows in dad's footsteps

The money quote that appeared below the headline: 'I think the President's Scholarship is, more than anything else, responsibility. It tells you you can't slack off, but have to try to enrich yourself in as many ways as possible.' - Stephanie Koh 18, on what it means to be a President's Scholar.

Seriously. Scholars in Singapore now think their duty is to enrich themselves in as many ways as possible.

My friend the Samurai Blogger points out that not all President's Scholars end up in plum positions within the state bureaucracy, as it's not a bonded scholarship and recipients aren't ushered into academic paths by the scholarship. It's an unfair stereotype, he claims, that all scholars have silky smooth ride even if they are good.

Even so, I'm reminded of a conversation I had with some friends on National Day, shortly after watching the NDP, where my opposite number put forth the view that it is natural and expected that scholars are promoted to positions in the bureaucracy where they can prove and exercise their leadership qualities. That's another unfair stereotype for you.

And Straits Times coverage of "where are these scholars now?" basically conflates and celebrates these 2 stereotypes together: the worthy scholar who will one day lead us into the great future, the worthy scholar whose bond is surety of leadership and success, the scholar whose sole duty to the state, once they have received the scholarship, is to enrich themselves in as many ways as possible.

1 comment:

zx said...

Just a short comment -- I think you've misread what she means. If a scholarship is awarded in order to allow you to study overseas, naturally you intend to get the best out of the education that the state is paying for, IN ORDER to make sure that the money is well-spent. I don't see a problem with that. I think we read too much into people's comments sometimes because we have a pre-conceived negative view of certain people (eg scholars). No offense intended.