Terengganu student thrives without state aid

Diyana Ibrahim

Gong Badak native Tengku Nur Sajidah Tengku Khairi’s decision to pursue filmmaking without state help sees her receiving the top academic award at the National Academy of Arts, Culture and Heritage in Kuala Lumpur. – Facebook pic, November 30, 2023.

WHEN Tengku Nur Sajidah Tengku Khairi decided to pursue filmmaking as her field of studies three years ago, she applied for educational assistance from the Terengganu government.

She was disappointed when the Terengganu Islamic Religious and Malay Customs Council rejected her application on grounds that her chosen field of studies was not eligible for any scholarship.

Gong Badak-born Tengku Nur Sajidah however did not lose heart but pursued her studies at the National Academy of Arts, Culture and Heritage (Aswara) in Kuala Lumpur.

Last weekend, the 24-year-old Tengku Nur Sajidah not only received bachelor’s degree in the field of film and television with honours, she was also awarded the Rector’s Gold Award as the best student at the 18th Aswara convocation.

The Chancellor’s Gold Award is given to students who, among other things, have a cumulative grade point average of 3.50 in each semester, have never repeated any course and have never been subject to disciplinary action. 

The highest award is also given to students who are active in faculty activities in addition to being recognized at the national and international level. 

“I just calmed down (after the scholarship rejection). I continued to do what I’m interested in,” she told The Malaysian Insight, recalling the episode three years ago.

Tengku Nur Sajidah has supportive parents to thank, despite the fact they had three other children to support.

Her father is a business consultant while her mother is a secondary school teacher. Tengku Nur Sajidah is the second of four children. 

According to Tengku Nur Sajidah, she viewed the experience as a challenge any student has to face, and did not want it to interfere with her filmmaking ambitions.

She carried on studying film with her own savings for tuition fees, with support and financial help from her parents. 

“As long as I am interested in what I do, there is no reason for me to despair. 

“There is no reason for me to stop midway even if I don’t get the support of the Terengganu scholarship or any other corporation,” she added.

Terengganu’s religious authorities rejected Tengku Nur Sajidah’s application for help with her studies at Aswara on grounds that her field of study was “directed towards entertainment and neglect”. 

Tengku Nur Sajidah, on October 1, 2022, expressed her frustration on Twitter (now X) and it went viral.

Tengku Nur Sajidah, who was upset over the rejection, said the general eligibility requirements listed showed she qualified for the scholarship.

“It’s just that I missed one condition, which is a specific course for theory, such as doctorate and engineering.

“I didn’t see any other conditions that disqualified any studies in arts,” she said.

Tengku Nur Sajidah also said she did not understand why there should be different requirements according to the field of study. 

“What is the difference between other studies and arts? Students apply to study and seek knowledge even in the field of arts,” she said.

Looking ahead, Tengku Nur Sajidah hopes there will be a shift in the attitude of the PAS-led Terengganu government, that it will not view arts as a neglectful form of entertainment.

She believes many young people in Terengganu are interested in arts, and they need to be given exposure and support.

“If there is support or a some exposure from corporations that are involved and interested in that field, it might help a little to expand the minds of young people in Terengganu towards arts,” she said. 

Asked what her message is to young people who may be facing the same situation as she is, Tengku Nur Sajidah hopes that they will be determined to try to achieve what they are interested in. 

“The field of film and arts, or theatre, is actually not a strange thing. It may be a road less travelled in Malaysia, more so in Terengganu.

“But if we do it out of interest and to learn, just keep going. 

“Don’t think about people’s accusations. Let people say neglect but we know what we learn is not neglect,” she added. – November 30, 2023.

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  • A courageous and determined girl that every young people should take note, especially in Terengganu where opportunity for knowledge is hard to come by. Strange is that MB himself is a professional and should understand such sentiment.

    Posted 4 months ago by G Tan · Reply