Challenges of getting our children into good universities
Thursday 13 December 2018 2:33 AM UTC
“Liverpool is a slaver city. During the 16th and 17th centuries Liverpool played an important role in the Atlantic slave trade as it was one of the points of slave trade triangle…” my speech lasted for about ten minutes which was aimed at the younger generation in a bus going for a one day tour to Liverpool.
The tour was organised by the Birmingham Malayalavedhi. Nobody had asked for me to give this talk. In that sense I had imposed that talk on to them I soon realised I had made an error of judgement. Nobody showed any interest in talk.
“You have education but lack common sense,” (താങ്കൾക്ക് വിദ്യഭാസം ഉണ്ട് വിവരം ഇല്ലാ )Jessy, a nurse extended her neck from the back seat and told me as I sat down. Her words puzzled me.
“In tours such as this we should be saying rosaries and singing pious songs. We are here to relax, not to listen to your lecture,” she admonished me and reiterated my feeling that I had made an error of judgement.
That was the end of my effort of enlightening the young. Soon the founding fathers of the Vedhi made me and others who were had joined the vedhi hoping to connect with the community were to take an important lesson – they are not welcome. Soon the founding father showed them the way out.
Since the day we were shown the way out we were not associated with the members of vedhi. Ten years passed by and I met Jessy and her husband one day in a supermarket. I was always grateful to her for teaching me an important lesson about opening my mouth.
“Joy our son did not do as well as we had thought at GCSE and he has joined for nursing at the Bristol University,” she told me.
“Very good,” I said. “It is the noblest profession I encouraged her.
“We would have liked him to join medicine,” she said.
“Did you give him sufficient support while in the school,” I asked.
“We made sure, he attended the Second Saturday conventions and we also had gone to Lourdes just one month before the exam,” she said with satisfaction. The school teachers had always told her that Joy is a good student and met the targets.
However when the results came Jessy found her son did not receive enough support from Lourdes or all those prayers offered at the Second Saturday convention.
The support she offered in forming the character does very little to improve grades. But Jessy is not complaining as she is convinced the following god’s will is what is important.
However my recent interactions with the community made me think things are changing. Today in Birmingham there is a rush among the Vedhi members to get their children into Grammar school.
You would find many Catholics who would swap second Saturday conventions attendance for coaching classes for their children. Since the competition for getting into the grammar school stronger it has become more challenging for the children as well as parents.
But even if one cannot get admission into the grammar school one need not be discouraged. With sufficient support they can get good GCSE and good A levels. Most Russel group (research oriented) universities are demanding three A’s at the A levels. It is also important that we have a good academic atmosphere at home.
A large number of association activities and prayer meetings can be counterproductive. It acts as distraction and takes the mind away from academic activities. A visit to the Lourdes may take only three days but it may take even a month for the child to get her mind out of the ‘Lourdes’ mode.
Members of the doctor’s club had shown a disdain for the Vedhi/Syro church activities and had focused on their time on education and managed to get their children into good universities in the UK itself while the Vedhi members had to take to the Bulgaria/Lithuania option.
The change in priority need to be welcomed. Should this become a trend, the associations will have reassign their priorities. May be they can think of redesigning association gathering into activities that promote extracurricular activities like developing presentation and other soft skills.
Most graduate job interviews now require the candidate to make presentations. Here our children have to compete with the well accomplished students and they would be in a disadvantage.
Some university courses have presentations as part of their assessments too. Associations like Vedhi can step in. It is recognised fact that role models can inspire young people to give their best. Presentations by the young people who have been able to go good universities can be thought of. However for all these we need an enlightened leadership.
A study by the Sutton foundation found one in three children get personal tuitions. For the Asian community this rises to 52%. If this support is given to our children they can do well in their studies.
One friend who takes tuitions among the Malayali children in Birmingham told me our children are very bright and are willing to work hard but the parents not only do not give the support needed but organised distractions.
While working in the Vedhi, I had suggested our children should be given a book as a birthday present to instil them the importance of reading, it was frowned upon and dismissed by the founding fathers.
While thinking about the future career of the students the courses they choose to do is very important. Also important is the university from which one does the degree.
How to identify the university is a problem. The league tables are very useful. Recently IFS has come out with a website where you can look at the earnings of the former students.
The following website gives an idea of earnings of the University graduates. Institute of Fiscal Studies has assembled the data to help potential students and parents to make wise choices.