Students and Post Secondary Education
Another school year has just begun. In this context, it may be appropriate
to touch upon a very important subject with respect to higher education
for Indo-Canadian students.
It has been reported that proportionately, far fewer students
from the Indo-Canadian community are graduating from high school
and post-secondary institutions than from many other communities.
What could be the reason(s) for such a disparity?
In order to succeed in school, especially at the post-secondary
level, a student must have good academic ability, suitable financial
resources, motivation and parental /family support. Academic ability
and motivation-both internal- depend mostly upon individual student’s
attitude, work habits self-esteem and desire to succeed. Family
support and encouragement-the external factors- are also crucial
to a student’s success in school. This is where parents as
well as other members of the extended family can be of great help.
Financial factors in case of most Indo-Canadian students may not
be a major barrier. In a majority of cases, parents will do everything
within their means to financially support their children. Also,
universities and colleges offer various types of scholarships and
bursaries to help needy students. On top of that, there are need
based programs like Canada Access Grant for Low Income students,
the Millennium Access Bursary and the B.C. loan reduction program-
all tied to Student-Aid B.C., the student loan program. It is likely
that similar programs may also be available in other provinces.
Here in B.C., community organizations like SPARK also offer scholarships
to deserving students.
South Asian Bar Association (SABA) has just set up two scholarships
of $1,000 each to UBC and U.VIC first and second year law students
enrolled in the 2007/08 sessions. This is a commendable move on
SABA’s part. The deadline for applications is October 15.
Interested students should get in touch with Jindy Bhalla at: email@example.com
The importance of post-secondary education can’t be emphasized
enough. It has been reported that not in the too distant future,
nearly 75% of good job opportunities will go to those individuals
who have a college or university degree.Various community activists
and academics have been making this point for some time. Retired
school superintendent, Geoff Johnson, in a recent article article
in The Vancouver Sun (dated August 27), has reinforced this point.
Johnson, quoting a BC Stat report, states that persons with an undergraduate
degree earn 68% more than their co-workers without post-secondary
education. In other words:” School success equals life success.”
Research indicates that early oral language skills/development
and parental involvement in a child’s education are two of
the most important indicators of potential success in school. In
the Indo-Canadian community, with a few exceptions, we seem to be
lacking on this front. Those parents, who do become active partners
in their child’s education, usually reap huge rewards. It
gives them a feeling of great pride and satisfaction when their
children go to college/university, succeed and become well-respected
There are no shortcuts to academic success. The whole process
has to start even before a child enters school. Meaningful interaction
with young children goes a long way in stimulating their language,
curiosity and love for learning. Parents and grandparents are their
great role models. The children begin to pick up cues from adults
around them from a very early age. The first three or four years
of a child’s life set the stage for the rest of his/her life.
Early childhood programs are considered to be crucial to a child’s
learning. On-going parental support, along with a positive family
environment, are some of the other factors highly conducive to a
child’s education, self-cocept as well as overall social,
emotional growth and development.
As a community, we need to undergo a mental shift and treat higher
education for our youth as a top priority. Our youth would definitely
benefit from encouragement, support and the spark to set their sights
high. We need to encourage and inspire our youth to “aim for
the stars”. Even if they can’t reach them, they will
land pretty high anyway.
Mentorship also plays a major role in any field. In this regard,
senior students at various post-secondary institutions, who have
already become successful, as well as professionals, can do a great
service by acting as mentors and guides for their younger peers.
The Indo-Canadian community, like others, has a large number of
youth, adults and seniors who are a source of great pride and inspiration.
We must make every effort to capitalize on these valuable resources
as well. Start of a brand new school year is the best time to start
(Balwant Sanghera is a retired School Psychologist and Community
Activist. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org)