We don’t have a program for child prodigies.
Mohd. Shukri Hadafi made big news in 1976. Hailed from Baling, Kedah, he was only 3 years old when he could already read the newspapers.
Jins Shamsuddin (currently Senator) took him to act in the film Menanti Hari Esok in 1977.
His parents sent him to a Chinese school, fearing that a Sekolah Kebangsaan syllabus would bore him and impede his progress.
Prof. Ungku Aziz adopted him.
Then the media highlighted that he was now a penebar roti canai. I remember reading that he would like to be the best penebar roti canai in the world someday.
That was 1997.
Apparently he had done many odd jobs trying to make it, including as a laborer and chicken seller. Rumor has it that he later became a drug addict. Some say he sells dried coconut in Padang Terap.
One of the things about learning is that we should learn from our mistakes. Another thing about learning is we should also learn from other people’s mistakes.
Well, this country just never learn.
Be it about transportation system, or town planning, or how to handle child prodigies.
I don’t expect our IPTS to be able to handle these wiz kids, because they want money. Although if they’re smart, they could use these kids as their promotional items to get more business. It isn’t as if these kids come in droves.
But wizards like Hadafi and Adi Putra come from middle to lower income families. Malay families. These families are not highly educated, but smart enough to recognize the potential that their children have.
They can’t afford to send their kids to England, or New Zealand, or America. And they can’t afford to stay home and nurture these kids full-time, because their salaries don’t match their cost of livings.
They need help. And our school system, IPTA, and our Government should be able to help.
For goodness sake, we just saved RM4billion from the petrol subsidy!
But that is not happening. Why?
The sky is the limit as to what these kids could become. May be that’s exactly what the Government and the politicians are afraid of.
While the Chinese and Indians recognize their own child prodigies, and do something about them, we just talk. Because we want Adi Putra to be another Shukri Hadafi.
So the next time kids like these show up, we might just as well throw them to the dogs.