Sunday, December 20, 2009

Free Education and Health Service Can Set Us All Free

This weekend, my soul was wrecked with sadness and utter disbelief.

Amongst the notable reasons are as follows: -

1. Why can't education be made free and compulsory to all children

"If you think education is expensive, try ignorance"
~ Attributed to both Andy McIntyre and Derek Bok

I was waiting impatiently to watch Crayon Shin Chan over NTV7 yesterday evening when I had to 'relish' one of the most idiotic explanations too frequently uttered by Gomen men. In no time, my childish excitement turned into sadness, tears rolling down my cheeks.

This secretary general to our Education Minister was telling the audience that they won't provide education to children of the refugees because 'if we give them a good education, they will be more of them coming over'. He went on by implying that these children should also be punished accordingly since they have entered our Ibu Pertiwi illegally. Can't he see that by providing these children with education, part of our problem is solved? But above all, no child should be punished for his parent's mistakes or weaknesses.

Well, let's not talk about providing free education to those children of the refugees. Even some Anak-Anak Bangsa Malaysia are denied access to school because they do not have proper documents, like Birth Certificate. Some do not have this certificate because they were born out of wedlock. Some due to life's circumstances.

A few couldn't make into school because it's too far away that their poor parents couldn't afford to send them. A few couldn't even afford a proper meal for them to grow. A few kind souls give school a miss because they need to care for their ailing parents or work so that they family could have something to eat, somewhere to live, and a hope to live by for another challenging day.

For all these glaring facts, we fail to help them. We fail to register all babies that were born in any hospitals in this Ibu Pertiwi as our own. We fail to trigger early warning signal that these children were not enrolled in any education centres by the time they reach 6 years old. We fail to notice and follow up when one child went missing from school. We fail to identify these children that need our assistance in many ways. Why? Isn't that a sin that we know yet we do not do anything about it?

Yet, one teen was sent to jail because he failed to attend our deluded NS when he had stopped schooling since he was 15. When we can fill his name in the list as he turned 17, why can't we fill the name of those children to attend school when they turn 7?

I simply cannot comprehend that we would allow hundreds of million being paid as commissions to purchase an instrument of war, another Istana Negara and Exhibition Centre being built, to condone corruption when these children are left in the darkness without hope of future? Aristotle once said, "Education is an ornament in prosperity and a refuge in adversity". How could we not feel for them?

It's even more sad because those people who run this Ibu Pertiwi are educated but perhaps, true to what Bill Beattie says that, "The aim of education should be to teach us rather how to think, than what to think - rather to improve our minds, so as to enable us to think for ourselves, than to load the memory with thoughts of other men".

I take comfort on UNICEF's Convention on the Rights of the Child. One of the rights is to provide free, compulsory quality education system for all children. I think we all should work towards providing this priceless gift to these innocent children.

2. Why can't we provide non-profit universal health care?

While hurrying to the kitchen this morning, I stumbled upon Michael Moore's "Sicko" on telly and spent a good 20 minutes watching it before it ended with me sobbing silently. I would save some bytes and plead that you have to watch this heart-rendering documentary.

So, I shall share with you some quotes that just squeezed dry my tear glands: -

(a) Tony Benn

"Keeping people hopeless and pessimistic - see I think there are two ways in which people are controlled - first of all frighten people and secondly demoralize them. An educated, healthy and confident nation is harder to govern".

(b) Micheal Moore

"If this is what can happen between supposed enemies, if one enemy can hold out his hand and offer to heal, then what else is possible? That's when I heard that the man who runs the biggest anti-Michael Moore website was going to have to shut it down. He could no longer afford to keep it up because his wife was ill and he couldn't afford to pay for her health insurance. He was faced with a choice of either keep attacking me or pay for his wife's health. Fortunately, he chose his wife. But something seemed wrong about being forced into such a decision. Why, in a free country, shouldn't he be able to have health insurance and exercise his First Amendment right to run me into the ground? So I wrote him a check for the 12,000 dollars he needed to keep his wife insured and in treatment, and sent it to him anonymously. His wife got better and his website is still going strong".

"It was hard for me to acknowledge that in the end, we truly are all in the same boat. And that now matter what are differences, we sink or swim together. That's how it seems to be everywhere else. They take care of each other, no matter what their disagreements. You know, when we see a good idea from another country, we grab it. If they build a better car, we drive it. If they make a better wine, we drink it. So if they've come up with a better way to treat the sick, to teach their kids, to take care of their babies, to simply be good to each other, then what's our problem? Why can't we do that? They live in a world of 'we', not 'me'. We'll never fix anything until we get that one basic thing right. And powerful forces hope that we never do. And that we remain the only country in the western world without free, universal health care. You know, if we ever did remove the chokehold of medical bills, college loans, daycare, and everything else that makes us afraid to step out of line, well, watch out. Cause it will be a new day in America. In the meantime, I'm gonna go get the government to do my laundry".

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