IT was really disturbing to read about the student who chose to take her life after she received her Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia ( SPM) exam results.

Academic education is important but it is not the means to all ends. Each one of us has certain skills, capacities and interests. These constantly change.

I was a music teacher for more than three decades and observed how mediocre students in the earlier stages excelled and became concert pianists. I know of very successful business people today who did not even complete formal studies.

I too, was a poor student, having had to skip lessons in class because of my involvement in music activities. I managed to scrape through my exams. I was distraught at that time, but my parents encouraged me to pursue my music as they were aware of my talent in which I excelled and became one of the best music teachers in Kuala Lumpur. I had no interest in reading but at the age of 50-plus, my life changed and now I am surrounded by books.

Every person has dignity and just to be alive is a wonder. We have many options to select from and academic studies are not the only one.

Parents have a part to play in this. They can monitor their children’s interests, guide and encourage them to pursue what they are good at and not harp on academic qualifications alone.

Einstein and Thomas Edison were considered poor students in their early years but what brilliance they showed in later life!

Bridget Menezes is the author of Second Edition of Self-Empowerment and Spiritual Counsellor. Readers can email her at