Tag Archives: Education

Ultimate Goal

To be highly successful and go through the rough times with resilience, you must have an ultimate goal. One that keeps you going, no matter what the obstacles are and what kind of pain you are going through. You will get through all these difficulties if you have a strong ultimate goal.

Then I am thinking…

What is my ultimate goal, really?

To be a good person? Have a comfortable life? Travel around the world? Get richer? Read more books? Enjoy good wines?

These are good simple goals, but all of them are very individualistic. In other words, I am a “taker” rather than a “giver” in each of these goals. Do not get me wrong—there is nothing wrong with these goals.

But are they enough?

What about giving, instead of only taking?

Giving is the real taking, since it gives both you and your counterpart pleasure.

When you help someone get a job that he feels strongly about, he gets happy. Not only him, you become happy too since you created value for someone and you feel useful.

In simple terms, the more lives you touch, the happier you become. To identify and stick with your ultimate goal will make the challenges you experience much easier and more bearable. You will be more resilient and strong.

So, I finally decided my ultimate goal.

Opportunity to access proper education is the key for a society not to be left behind, and to prosper and develop. Being British and Turkish, and planning to move to London in a couple of years, I would like to create a platform to make sure that all the 500,000 British Turks have proper access to education.

I will work hard to reach my ultimate goal! I am always happy to collaborate with people who share the same or similar goals, and I would be extremely happy to generate ideas and action plans to work together.

All the best from Singapore.
Sukru Haskan

Twitter: @sukru_haskan

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Social Mobility

 

If you are born in the Western world rather than Africa today, it is likely that you will not suffer famine in your lifetime. If you are born in England, your life expectancy will be higher than someone born in Mali. If you are born into a family where both your parents have university degrees, it is very likely that you will have access to higher education as well.

Small differences in life such as your place of birth, nationality, your name and your family make huge differences to how your life is lived.

It is very clear that not everybody is born with the same kind of opportunities and prospects. It is the balance of nature—and it is not very fair.

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Social mobility is a big challenge for every country today. A book written by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett concludes that more equal societies almost always do better than others. Their study discovers that there is an inverse relationship between income inequality and intergenerational mobility. Countries with less income inequality, such as Denmark, Sweden and Finland, have some of the greatest mobility, whereas countries with high income inequality, such as Chile and Brazil, have some of the lowest social mobility.

So much talent is wasted because they haven’t been given enough opportunity to show what they can achieve.

For example, George Soros would have been one of the wasted talents, but he was lucky enough to receive an education at LSE.

He subsequently tried his luck in securing employment in England, but was offered only simple jobs rather than his dream investment banking job. Because he did not come from a certain family or circle, he could not establish his dream in England, and so flew to the US to accomplish his dreams.

Today he is one of the greatest philanthropists.

Given that we cannot completely eliminate these inequalities, how can we help the underprivileged to move up the ladder?

No matter what, we have to subsidise education. Children who come from poor families have to make it to good schools if they have the right attitude and skills. Without allowing underprivileged kids access to education, it is almost impossible to speak about social mobility.

I think Singapore is a very good example. Everyone can go to a public school and the monthly fee varies from free to six Singapore dollars if you are a Singaporean citizen. More importantly, Singapore is one of the best countries for your child to be educated, according to the latest PISA results.

There is no guarantee that all kids can make it—but the probability of climbing the ladder significantly increases with a good education.

The legendary investor, Jim Rogers, lives in Singapore with his family and he chose for his daughter to study at a public school rather than a private school.

Social mobility is not only something that helps people climb the ladder, but it is also an insurance against rises in crime and is a bodyguard for a peaceful world.

It is not easy to subsidise a good level of education for everyone and it is very costly, but it is not more costly than the cost of rising crime, of unhappy communities and of pessimistic futures.

Finally, no matter how smart you are, if you are financially well off, it is very likely that you will take it easy. Social mobility is also good for innovation, competition and the promotion of growth.

Hamdi Ulukaya, owner of Chobani yoghurts, is a recent good example of social mobility. A Turkish citizen of Kurdish descent, he was lucky enough to study at Ankara University and lucky enough to go to the US for his English studies. He took a major risk in acquiring a large, defunct yoghurt factory in New York.

Ulukaya’s net worth is USD 1.4 billion as of 2014 and he has pledged USD 700 million to refugees of the Syrian civil war.

It is hard to prove, but I believe people whom you help to move up social ladder tend to help other people as well—just like George Soros and Hamdi Ulukaya.

All the best from Singapore.

Sukru Haskan
Twitter: @sukru_haskan

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Education, Social Entrepreneurs and Condolences

When I woke up on Saturday morning (November 14th) in Singapore, I had so many notifications on my phone from BBC, CNN, Le Point, France 24, Strait Times, etc.

While I was trying to open up my eyes, I managed to read one of these notifications and I was shocked.

Unfortunately, all the notifications that morning were related to the attacks in Paris on Friday night.

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First I tried to think which of my friends were in Paris and then, thanks to the Facebook safety check-in option, I figured out who was in Paris and luckily they were all safe—but not the poor 129 people who were killed so cowardly that night.

After absorbing the initial shock, I, like many of you, I am sure, started thinking of what could lead these people to act like this.

Most people came up with the answer of radical beliefs, but the answer is much deeper than that.

From my experience, when people genuinely get richer, that does not turn them into intellectual human beings, but they have an option to buy some level of comfort. Over time, the ability to buy comfort gradually makes them open to further adaptation and modernization, if they are not already.

With the right education in place, they can even be leading intellectuals in their community, too.

So I think the key here is how we can get these people in the very low pillars of society to higher pillars.

Education is key here; but education costs a lot—and for people who cannot meet their basic needs such as security and food especially, education is something of a luxury.

The government may provide education services up to a certain level, but this will always be limited and the kid from the poor family will still lack if he is not supported.

Social philanthropists can play a crucial role here.

For instance, I had a chance this week to meet a social entrepreneur, Alexandre Mars, in Singapore. People like him are quite important, because it is impossible and naive to believe that the state will reach every corner of the world to find disadvantaged people. On top of that, ageing and a broken insurance system in the developed world makes it even harder for governments to bring about solutions.

Alexandre Mars is one of the top twenty philanthropists under 40 in New York. His foundation is called the Epic Foundation and it was initially funded by his personal funds. His foundation currently funds 20 new NGOs every single year to help youths in five different continents. You can find more information on Epic Foundation here.

But of course, we need more Alexandre Mars, and it is easier said than done.

Alexandre mentioned that it was his dream to help the youth and it took 15 years to create enough wealth to pursue his real dream.

Thomas Piketty, a reputable French economist and author of Capital in the Twenty-First Century, argues that the income inequality will continue to rise in the future as the return rate of capital is higher than the rate of economic growth. More importantly, he believes that the inequality level is now around the pre-war era.

I do not believe the utopic idea that everyone should be equal—on the contrary, I believe it is important that people are recognized for their achievement; but the redistribution of wealth is key to funding necessary education for the masses.

G20 in Antalya, Turkey, had been a good chance for leaders to discuss these issues. Since politicians are not entrepreneurs and they move much more slowly than entrepreneurs, I still believe entrepreneurs are the key to the solution.

The world is becoming a very polarized place to live and this is contrary to globalization and trade. We must eliminate illiteracy and poverty to secure a liveable world for ourselves and for our kids.

Expecting my first child next month, these events are very discouraging and lead me to wonder what kind of world we are really leaving for them. I sincerely worry about a world war within my life span.

By taking this opportunity, I would to like to offer my most sincere condolences to the families who lost their loved ones in the Paris, Beirut and Ankara attacks.

All the best from Singapore.

Sukru Haskan
Twitter: @sukru_haskan

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