The Tempinis diaries

April 1, 2008

How Malaysia has failed its gifted children

Filed under: education, malaysia, singapore — Tags: , , , , — toru @ 12:19 pm

This is a follow up post on Sufiah Yusof. It must be really difficult being a child genius. Growing up from your awkward phase is already hard enough – imagine being put in a class where everyone is much older than you. Also, all that expectations heaped on a child can’t be healthy. Besides Sufiah Yusof, the other Malaysian genius, Chiang Ti-Ming, also had an extremely difficult time coping with the pressure. There is also a newspaper story on Ti Ming below.

Perhaps, for these kids the answer is not to put them with older kids or in a university. A more safe and nurturing environment may be to place them with other gifted kids. In the article below written in 1997, Lim Kit Siang talked about how Malaysia has failed its gifted children. I contrast this with the story below on NUS High School written in 2006. What Lim Kit Siang proposed then is now a reality in Singapore in the form of NUS High School. One can’t help but feel gratified and inspired by reading the stories of these talented young children. Hopefully, students like Carmen Cheh from Perak will grow up to be happy and well-adjusted adults. If only Sufiah and Ti-Ming had such schools where they live. Perhaps, they wouldn’t have suffered as much.


Sunday August 13, 2006
School for aspiring Einsteins and Hawkings

Singapore Straits Times education correspondent SANDRA DAVIE visited NUS High School of Maths and Science to try and keep up with the young Einsteins, and came away impressed.
IT IS a lesson on contraceptive methods for a group of 15-year-olds. At any other secondary school, a topic like this would have brought on blushes and giggles.

Not at the National University of Singapore High School of Mathematics and Science (NUS High). The 14 boys and 10 girls in a class taught by a young biology PhD graduate are more interested in the science of contraception.

After Dr Seah Wee Khee, 27, shows them a condom, the intra-uterine device and diaphragm, they launch into spirited sparring.

Year Four students (from left) Zhai Wei Chao, Zhao Ye, Lei Lei and Tan Li, hanging out at the Astronomy Club’s observatory which sits atop the roof of the 12-storey hostel. – ST/ANN pic


March 31, 2008

The Tragedy of Precociousness

Filed under: education, malaysia — Tags: , , , — toru @ 12:58 pm

What a tragedy for the Yusof family. It is really sad. Malaysia has a rather tenuous connection to Sufiah Yusof. After she was reported to have gained admission to Oxford, the Malaysian government fell over backwards to offer her a scholarship just because her mother was Malaysian. I believe that she wasn’t even Malaysian and her father was Pakistani. Whereas the other child prodigy at that time, Chiang Ti-Ming, was completely ignored by the Malaysian government. Full story here. Incidentally, Chiang’s story did not have a happy ending too.

Monday March 31, 2008
Math prodigy now a £130 hooker claim
PETALING JAYA: Sufiah Yusof, the child Maths genius who won a place at Oxford University when she was just 13, has been found to be working as a prostitute, according to a report in London’s News of the World.

Sufiah, now 23, whose father Farooq is a Pakistani and mother Halimathon is from Johor, was reported to have entertained an undercover reporter in her flat in Manchester.

Claiming that she had posted her services for £130 (RM829) on the Internet, the newspaper said she had called herself Shilpa Lee on a hookers’ website. She is said to have advertised herself as “a sexy, smart student” who preferred “older gentlemen”.

Better times: File pic of Farooq with Sufiah when she was Oxford-bound.

The story in the newspaper comes just days after her father was jailed for sexually assaulting two 15-year-old girls as he home-tutored them in Maths.

Sufiah passed the Maths A-Level she needed for entry into Oxford at the age of 12.

Three years into Oxford, she sparked a massive police hunt after running away.


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