Thursday, November 17, 2011
Giving Schoolchildren RM100.
A hundred bucks may not be much nowadays. But parents don't usually give away RM100 to their kids for kicks. Once they get into the habit of receiving the big ones for their pleasure, the tenner, the fiver and the little ones mean nothing anymore. Give them a tenner and they might just pull a sour face with a nasty pout of the lips.
Kids from wealthy families in the city maybe used to getting the 100 and 50 smackeroo. Must we now spread that expectation to the poorer kids in the rural areas? Government's intention of giving them the handout as emblazoned by the papers maybe good but that could revive the old dependency on government subsidy and aid syndrome, among the kids of today.
Kids are learning a lot of things from the school today, more than just from the books amd teachers. The school is a melting pot of juvenile behaviors as nurtuted by many families. All the good and bad habits developed in the familly are brought to the school by the kids and are slowly rubbed onto each other through friendship and emulation. It is in the school that children picked up msny of the offensive habits that parents do not tolerate or approve at home. It is there that habits like bullying the young and the weak, cheating to get around certain problems, buying favors and influence from schoolmates, ganging up to protect oneself from other groups and cliques, and even learning to commit little crimes and misdemeanours for kicks as a group activity.
One of the less hihlighted things that children learn in school is spending and saving money. They are given some pocket money everyday. While some received a lot and have no problem of buying whatever they want from the school canteen or even the shops and shopping complexes around their school, others received barely enough to feed themselves during school- break. They thus learn to borrow and cheat some friends with lots of money to spare.
Now, how would the sudden gift of money from the government or any other rich benefactor, affect the spending habit of the children with little money to spare? They would probably go out to buy whatever they have longed for all these while, go on a spending spree that they had never experinced. Of course a hundred ringgit won't take them far but enough to have the experince of being "rich" - a false experince surely for they will be poor gain after the money is spent. Then what? They might expect another handout from the government and if they don't get it, their attitude towards the givernment might suddenly change.
Yes, the gesture of giving money to the needy children in school is certainly good. But as Confucius said, give a msn some fish and he has food for a day. But teach him how to fish and he will have food for the rest of his life. Wouldn't it be better to let the children earn the money somehow? Or put the money in a savings account and let the children learn how to operate and build up the account. That would be more useful to them as a learning experince than to be "rich" for one or two days and then becoming poor again, or feeling even poorer and envious of the rich after the experience. Unless, of course, the government will continue to give the handout off and on, and let the children develop a dependency syndrome that government is trying to stamp out from the poorer Malaysians.