Ainan Cawley, Singaporean child prodigy soon a Malaysian???

Yes, I won't be surprised if one day Ainan Cawley currently a 10-year-old Singaporean prodigy (you read amazing tales of the boy wonder that Pretoria News reported below!) will soon be declared a Malaysian by his parents.

After all Mr Valentine Cawley, Ainan Cawley's father, is very clear when he declared that for the family to consider returning to Singapore, 'Singapore would have to change in several ways'.

The father is very sore, alright.

He had complaints about MOE, NUS & NTU for being "tardy with responses and inflexible about accommodating Ainan".

I have yet seen replies from these institutions about the complains. Hope to see soon their take on the issue.

A 10-YEAR-OLD Singaporean prodigy is now studying in a private college in Malaysia, after his parents claimed they found the Singapore education system too rigid to cater to his genius.

Ainan Cawley, of Irish and Malay parentage, made headlines when he became the youngest person in the world to pass his GCE O-level chemistry examination. He was seven then.

He is now aiming for a degree from Help University College in Kuala Lumpur.

Ainan, his parents and two younger siblings moved there last month.

His father, Mr Valentine Cawley, 41, who tutored Ainan in physics and chemistry, said that for the family to consider returning to Singapore, 'Singapore would have to change in several ways'.

He said: 'It would have to support Ainan a lot better than it has, for instance... and I don't see that happening, given what we have experienced so far.'

In his e-mail reply to The Straits Times, Mr Cawley had a number of complaints about the Ministry of Education (MOE) as well as tertiary institutions such as the National University of Singapore (NUS) and the Nanyang Technological University (NTU).

He claimed that they were tardy with responses and inflexible about accommodating Ainan.

Mr Cawley's request to homeschool his son was turned down by the ministry. Instead, Ainan had to attend regular school from Primary 1 to 4. To Mr Cawley, this meant 'his time was basically wasted, from an academic point of view'.

He said that it took a year before the Gifted Education Programme department organised half a dozen practical chemistry lessons for Ainan.

Those quickly over, Mr Cawley then had to make his own arrangements to get Ainan access to the Singapore Polytechnic's laboratories. That, he claimed, took 22 months.

The lessons dried up a year later last July, when Ainan's mentor fell ill. After that, the polytechnic 'withdrew its support', Mr Cawley said.

The two universities offering science were sounded out as well. But NUS said the boy's application could be considered only if he took and passed three A-level papers in the same session. NTU said Ainan was 'too small', said Mr Cawley.

'We had, by 2009, completely exhausted our options. The only thing was to look overseas.'

Mr Cawley said he approached the National Association for Gifted Children of Malaysia president Zuhairah Ali for advice and she helped Ainan secure places at a few colleges in just a week.

The family's choice was Help University College, which gave Ainan a scholarship covering all his tuition fees.

The university was set up in 1986 and has about 9,000 undergraduate and postgraduate students enrolled in courses such as information technology, management and law.

A university spokesman told The Straits Times that Ainan was evaluated by its psychologists and subject experts, and checks were made on his background.

She said: 'We decided to offer Ainan a place at Help as we believe that we are able to meet his needs.

'Ainan has also met some lecturers at Help and they have commented that he is a very clever child. He was able to answer successfully the A-level maths questions that were given to him, which he had never studied for.'

Help said that he would be given a 'flexible platform' to pursue his interests and mature at his own pace. The university has also offered a research position to Mr Cawley so that the family can stay together.

Ainan is enrolled in an American degree programme which allows him to study for one to two years in the university and transfer to another university to complete the rest of his degree programme. He can choose from a list of about 80 universities, mostly located in the United States.

Asked to comment on Ainan's case and whether the education system here catered for gifted children, Mensa Singapore president Patrick Khoo said that the Singapore system is 'quite flexible', with an array of educational options from the Singapore Sports School to the School of the Arts.

He said: 'We cannot expect to tailor every course to every specific gifted child, at least not in the public school system. It will be prohibitively expensive and only the private educators can do that. Even then, the parents must be rich enough to pay for such customised courses.'

From Asiaone, "S'pore system 'too rigid' for child prodigy".

A Singaporean prodigy who passed Grade 10 chemistry at the age of seven is moving to Malaysia to attend the HELP University College because the island state is too rigid to accommodate gifted children, his father says.

Ainan Cawley, who passed his GCSE at the age of seven, has enrolled for an American degree programme. He can recite Pi to 518 decimal places and the periodic table. His father, Valentine Cawley, keeps a blog on his progress, "The boy who knew too much".

Cawley, of Irish origin and from London, said: "His vision is wide, ranging across the disciplines of physics, biology and chemistry... sometimes his insight seems prophetic, for he sees what is possible, rather than what is merely now."

His father and mother, Syahidah Osman, who is from Singapore, say Ainan was crawling at four months and walking at six and a half months. He spoke his first words in his first month, read his first letters at eight months, and was reading at three. At one, he gave a full account of his birth.

The couple's second son was crawling at six months and walking at eight. Their third could hold his head up and look around on the day he was born. At six months he could walk.

From Pretoria News, "Boy enrols for degree".


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