Dec 1, 2010

Japanese grads are Second Class?

I had a hectic schedule last week. 22/12, immersed in marking and grading, 23/12 attended meeting with JICA consultants-Pusat Inovasi Kolaboratif-UKMTech in the morning and then off to Look East Policy Symposium at PWTC. 24/12 submitted grades, 25-26/12 participated in Malaysia-Indonesia International Conference on Economics, Management and Accounting. The schedule was so hard I had to send my kids to their grandmother's.

Oh, back to the title. This was a part of a speech by a minister who officiated the Look East Policy Symposium. He mentioned that there is this perception that students who are sent to Japan are second class students, but actually it is not. Whomever gets a scholarship to study abroad are equally excellent; regardless of where they go. 

But in reality, I think it is true. I am not saying that Japanese grads are of second class, but the perception does. Why do people think so? The reasons might be
  1. UK and US are always the first choice. The rich and famous send their kids there to study, so if you are selected to go there, you must be the luckiest person on earth.
  2. UK and US have the top (or should I say toppest? :p) universities in global ranking, but Tokyo University, the toughest univ in Japan never topped the chart.
  3. UK and US grads are the nation's decision makers. Japanese grads? Do tell me if you know anyone.
Based on my experience, I applaud those who have successfully graduated from Japanese universities. Can you imagine, with zero knowledge of Japanese language, you have to master it in less than 2 years before entering a university that teaches everything (including English) in their language? Not only that, your actual purpose is to master the knowledge but how can you master the knowledge before mastering the language? At the end of the 2nd year of matriculation we had to sit for the  highest level in Japanese language proficiency test (JLPT1) before sitting for another 2-3 exams before qualifying ourselves to enter a university. It was quite painful, but what I learnt from this experience was that we should never underestimate the ability of our brain. All we need is patience and persistence.

On the other hand, those who are sent to English speaking countries are just so lucky. You have learnt English like your entire life and then just learn new things, new technology there. Your probability of passing with flying colors are higher than ours! But this is just a minor concern.

The real issue for me is the third one. Although the program to Japan started in 1983, only 27 years ago, Japanese grads have yet to appeal their presence to the society. We have yet to become the nation's key decision makers. Not many of us are entrepreneurs; what more technopreneurs (the nearest field besides being a technical person at the shopfloor). That is why people think we are of second class.

That is also why I would try my best not to turn down important invitations by the alumni (I belong to JMC/JAD* Alumni). I remembered the first one was to give a motivational talk to JAD first year students who were camping at Gombak (near Perkampungan Orang Asli) and the second one was to attend the symposium as participant cum interpreter. I believe a strong alumni will further enhance the capability of the graduates.

My dream is to see the Japanese grads stand tall, as tall as other overseas graduates and of course local grads, and together contribute to the country. We should be everywhere, just anywhere; private or government, manufacturing or service, having a boss or being the boss, and from there, little by little we should climb that ladder to the top.

None of us are second class unless we tell ourselves that we are. Full-stop.