By Ann Tan
RETIRED teacher Ismail Shafiee, 68, does not intend to stay idle during his retirement years and has taken up the challenge of a master’s degree at Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM).
“My wife Salmiah Mohamad and I do not want to stay at home, watching television and waiting to die,” he quipped when asked why he was continuing his studies at his age.
The couple, who enrolled for a master’s degree in Islamic development management, were among 1,566 postgraduate students taking their oaths at USM’s Dewan Tunku Syed Putra on Saturday.
The couple obtained their first degrees in social science last year. Ismail said he did not enter university when he was young because his priority then was for his children to study until university level. “Now that all my seven children are university graduates, I have finished my ‘family agenda’ and it’s time to pursue my own dream,” he said.
Salmiah, 64, also a retired teacher, said age should not be a barrier for them since getting knowledge is a lifelong process. “When I was young, I was offered a place at university but it was too far from my home so I did not go,” Salmiah said. “When I was in my 30s, I applied to study at USM twice but failed to get in. Then about four years ago, when USM offered a senior citizens’ lifelong learning programme, we decided to apply.
“We also hope to be an inspiration for the young who stopped after their first degree,” she said. Asked whether they had problems following the classes and communicating with their younger course-mates, they said their experience in the education field helped a lot and they could cope with the pressure. However, Ismail said initially they had problems memorising the notes. They also admitted that they were not so skilful in using computers.
USM vice-chancellor Professor Tan Sri Datuk Dzulkifli Abdul Razak said the university was targeting to take in 10,000 postgraduate students by 2010.“We are also aiming to be recognised as an Accelerated Programme for Excellence (APEX) university, which will take this university to a higher level challenge in the global arena,” he said.Dzulkifli said the university was giving incentives for master’s and PhD students who excelled academically.“The university will give them a monthly allowance of RM1,500 to RM3,000 based on their academic performance,” he said (The Star, 5 Ogos 2008, Ms M4, Events)