“I wish I knew then what I know now.”
That is a popular saying that has been repeated so many times that we don’t even really know who came up with it. This rings especially true with those who have had significant experiences in life.
Obviously referring to the accumulation of wisdom in life, I am fast realising this too. Oh how I would give to know then what I know now even if my life span has only been a mere 38 years.
There is a difference between intelligence and wisdom. A year-old baby can have traits and characteristics that can indicate intelligence at such a young age. But wisdom is definitely not there.
Wisdom is accumulated by knowledge, experience and age. And that’s why we always see those who are wise tend to be those whose age are a little bit high on the ladder. Older and wiser, they say.
And now the delayed lead to my piece. The government needs to reconsider its recent decision to not continue the services of 156 contractual university professors between the ages of 61 and 70.
In the public university sector where academic and research plays such an important role in the development and growth of the country, we need all the wisdom we can get to help steer it properly.
If at all, the field of academics and research should be the one field that we actually want to encourage the wisest minds to stay on and contribute the wisdom and knowledge they have accumulated.
Just to get the coveted title ‘professor’ or even ‘associate professor’ entails time, effort, dedication and commitment. It’s no wonder, and rightfully so, that most of those who hold these titles are at a particular age.
I don’t deny the fact that fresh and young minds are important too. But again, this is the field of knowledge. We need everything we can get, young or old, but definitely intelligent, knowledgeable and wise.
Also, one of the main reasons for the termination of the contracts, as stated by the National Council of Professors (MPN) chief executive Prof Datuk Dr Raduan Che Rose, is due to the national budget constraints.
And if the country is in dire times, then it would be more of a reason to make sure that the best of Malaysian minds are thinking and discussing on ways to improve the country.
The message that gets across shouldn’t be that after a certain age, an individual stops being useful. Sure there is a retirement age. But the mind doesn’t retire at old age. It is like wine; it gets better with age.
Unless, of course, these professors who are aged between 61 and 70 are expected to bring back the glory days of Malaysian football. That could be a difficult task, considering their age.