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Friday, 08 February 2013 09:01

Celebrating our laureates

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My dear Billy,
Now that the HSC results are known, and the scholarships lost and won, our school leavers are about to negotiate a very crucial stage in their lives.
The biggest question, which must be answered as quickly as possible, now is “what next?” Some may already have found their answer to this question. But most are looking here and there for answers, as they may be lost in the multitude of options facing them.

In their quest for the right answer they are unfortunately likely to encounter a host of “advisers,” those know-alls who in fact know nothing, and are thus most likely to lead them astray. Our young friends must be wary of such people and should be able to choose with discernment those who can rightly advise and guide them by virtue of their knowledge and experience.
As we are all aware, passing the HSC or being a laureate is not the be-all and end-all of education. The laureates have earned, through their hard work and sacrifice, the boon of winning a scholarship to pursue further studies for free. The less fortunate ones, whose names don’t appear in the list of laureates but who have achieved grades just after them, may also win scholarships from friendly countries and go to universities abroad.

The unfortunate ones, on the other hand, the great majority who have been left in the lurch, should take their fates in their own hands and forge ahead. Again, some may fall back on parents who have the means to send them abroad for studies. Some may join local universities and other institutions at little cost. But a great many will have to fend for themselves. Life may not be too easy for them, but then, when they came to this earth, nobody promised them an easy life.
Whatever the case, and despite the very precarious situations some may find themselves in, my advice is: If you think education is too expensive, try ignorance.

Starting on the premise that the foundation of every state is the education of its youth, we have to admit, whether we like it or not, and even if we are blind or don’t want to see, that the successive governments at the helm of things in the country, have been doing their utmost in the given circumstances, to assure the education of the youth. This policy goes in line with the spirit of independence, in that only the educated are free, and that a human being is not in any sense a human being till he is educated.

With a view to giving the chance to a greater number of Mauritians to pursue university studies, the Government has more than doubled the number of scholarships as from this year. There will also be scholarships based on the principle of Academic Merit and Social Criteria whereby students who have done well but whose parents’ monthly incomes are low will be offered scholarships. We have in the past made suggestions as to how the total amount spent yearly on the 31 laureates could be shared among a much greater number of beneficiaries.

Another good initiative this year is the elimination of the Rs 500, 000 bond which required scholarship holders to return to the country after their studies abroad. That was quite an aberration in a global village where every citizen is becoming a citizen of the world and not just of one country. Moreover, the scholarship holder was supposed to come back here in order to work for the benefit of the country, but quite often there was no job to offer them on their return.

One striking feature with the list of laureates this year is that as many as five schools have made their appearance on the list for the first time, including one private institution in a rural region. This gives an unmistakable boost and encouragement to other schools and students. It may stop the customary migration when SC results are proclaimed every year. Another interesting phenomenon this year is that while students always have the tendency to abandon their schools to go to others which they think are better, one girl has done the reverse journey, from Loreto Rose Hill to Modern College in Flacq where she has become a laureate.

It is also interesting to note that Rabindranath Tagore State School in Ilot, Pamplemousses, which produced two laureates for its first edition a couple of years ago, has struck once again with another batch of two.

We cannot but wish a very fruitful career to all the laureates as well as to all those who have not been as fortunate. Remember that winning a scholarship, while it is useful, is not the end of the road. It only makes the way easier. Also remember that education is a continuous, never-ending process.

 When a person’s education is finished, they are finished, my dear Billy. The last word today is: While learning how to make a living, also learn how to live.



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