THEY WILL ASK thee as to what they should spend on others. Say: "Whatever of your wealth you spend shall [first] be for your parents, and for the near of kin, and the orphans, and the needy, and the wayfarer; and whatever good you do, verily, God has full knowledge thereof." - Al-Baqarah (2:215)

Monday, 16 July 2007

The children & their education

One of my NGO’s main concerns when helping out the children of the families under our care is to ensure that all the infected and affected children are not deprived of basic education at the very least. Every child has a right to education and should be given that chance. There should not be any reason whatsoever, not for financial reasons especially, for the child to be left out or to drop out of school. They MUST go to school!

That was the reason behind the setting up of our Children Education Fund (CEF) – to provide school bags, work-books, school shoes and uniforms, bus fares, school fees and other basic schooling needs for the children.

However, for hard core poor families, even the CEF is not enough. The CEF only covers basic needs – the children may have additional needs like pocket money, and for those taking major exams, they may need extra books, tuition etc. This is why we are now in the process of finalizing a “Sponsorship for Education” program for the children where we hope to get a donor to sponsor each particular child’s entire education. Some sort of an adoption program, but for sponsorship purposes only. I’ve been entrusted to coordinate this program… hopefully it will take off within this year. Anyone interested?

Of the 34 children from the families under my care, 21 are schooling, and 11 are getting CEF for this year. There are 6 or 7 other children under the care of other volunteers who have also been granted CEF for this year. I believe by next year more will need financial assistance for their schooling.

However, there are a few of these children who have already been blacklisted by their teachers that even after they get the CEF, they are still reluctant to go to school.

Take Shah for example, last year he had to take his PMR. His family couldn’t afford to pay bus fares, so he had to depend on a neighbour who’d give him a lift IF the neighbour so happened to pass the way to his school. Otherwise, Shah would miss school. Because of that Shah missed school quite a lot, and every time he did go to school, he’d get a scolding by his teacher. And his teacher also kept pestering him to pay school fees. Never once did any of the teachers pay him a visit at home to find out WHY he had missed school and why he had not been paying his fees.

Beginning this year, his fees and bus fares are covered by our CEF, but Shah has no more interest in his studies and the fact that he had missed out quite a lot last year has resulted in him being rather slow in catching up with his studies – and as a result, he is STILL reluctant to go to school for he still gets scolded by his teachers every time he does go to school. I was told that recently he got a warning letter from the school to either come to school or gets kicked out permanently. That means, without my knowledge, Shah has still been missing school despite his fees and bus fares already being paid for. I understand it’s not easy for him. He needs motivation, lots of them.

But it is not easy to motivate a 16 year old boy who had gone through such misery as Shah had – I think deep down inside him he still blames his father (for taking drugs) for all his family’s sufferings. Every time Shah wanted to explain to me something that happened in the past, he’d start with, “Masa Ayah buat perangai dulu…”

Another PLWHA, Baayah who is under the care of another volunteer, has a 13 year old daughter who is also reluctant to go to school because of her teacher’s constant pestering asking her to pay up her school fees. By now, her fees have been covered by our CEF, but since the girl is not under my care, I’m not quite sure what the latest situation for her is.

In the case of Fuzi’s 9 year old son, last year he refused to go to school beginning the month of May right until the end of the year, for reasons only he knew. His teachers were more understanding - they came to Fuzi’s house to find out why he didn’t want to go to school and in fact they offered assistance for the family. They even offered to buy him a bicycle if he agreed to go back to school. But the boy simply refused. It took a lot of coaxing [and threats?! ;)] on my part at the end of last year to get him to go back to school beginning this year. Thank God he finally agreed. And as an insentive, I gave one of the 4 bicycles donated by a Good Samaritan to him. According to Fuzi, the boy no longer has problems of not wanting to go to school. I guess it is much easier to coax a young boy to go to school rather than trying to influence and motivate teenagers like Shah and Baayah’s daughter…

It gives me joy whenever any of “my” children enjoys going to school. When they enjoy schooling, usually they’d perform quite well in their studies. Fuzi’s eldest daughter, Wina, not only does fairly well in her studies, she’s also rather active in co-curricular activities. Yah’s 2 daughters too seem to be doing well despite just losing their father late last year and moving into a new school… both of them got second in their respective classes for their school exams recently. As for Yah’s 3rd child, the only boy, I think he has other problems that need to be dealt with… I will try to get help for him for his lack of attention span and his hyper activeness.

I noticed Lily’s children too seemed to understand the importance of education. They had in fact asked for tuition so they can perform better in certain subjects they feel they are weak in.

Coming from poor HIV affected families, these children’s future depend a whole lot on their education. Let’s not deprive them of their basic needs…


kina said...

kak Pi,

I have a set of std 2 textbook. I will send them together with the toys... blink* blink* sket.

Yes! the kids must go to school!

the teenagers memang a bit susah to coax, they alwiz keep it to themselves and the peer pressure sometimes keep them away from schools.

Having a cikgu prihatin wud be very much helpful kan?

winniethepooh said...

Pi Bani, I agree that every kid need to have a basic education and they are fortunate to have people like you who really works hard to get them their rights.

It is indeed difficult to try to get teenagers to walk on the 'right' track again esp when they have bitter experience with their teachers. Must find what is important to them to motivate them to go back to school; such as to a mother, her children are important, she will do anything for them. I guess if you can find that, it might work?

J.T. said...

It is not easy to motivate Shah. I agree.

In the first place, will he want to be motivated? He is still hanging on to that hurt his father caused him, which is understandable. Shah's world is shattered. Teachers, not understanding his background, don't help his situation. If they were more sensitive to his situation and took the trouble to find out his problem and probably motivate him, maybe Shah will have a little interest in going back to school. Oh! I don't know.. that is just my take on it.

ninuk said...

say that again ! even me, i'm struggling to keep up with my kids' schooling. last week i found out my #1 english exercise book have pages and pages of "DO YOUR WORK" red stamps. yesterday i had a chance to chat, when picking the kids from school, with #2 teacher and she hinted me to go thru' #2's english exercise books ... more red stamps of "COMPLETE YOUR WORK" ...

Pi Bani said...

I think these kids do get bantuan buku teks... their problem is more on the workbooks and other books the teachers ask them to buy.

And yes, a cikgu prihatin would be very helpful.

Pi Bani said...

I did notice that Shah has interests in motor mechanics. As such when I asked if he wanted to try for technical school he was excited. And I did help him apply. But the technical school near his place only had 6 applications for this year and as such didn't want to start a class. Will try to apply again for next year's intake and hopefully this time around they will have a class for him to join.

Pi Bani said...

It would be easier if there was something Shah could look forward to in school. But in his case there is nothing whatsoever of that sort. Instead, he is being looked at as an undisciplined student. I do know deep down inside him he's a very responsible person. He even does odd jobs on weekends to help out his family financially.

Pi Bani said...

Ahh... not completing their work, eh? Tough, isn't it?

Imagine what it's like for these poor families when the parents themselves are not educated enough to help out with their children's studies.

elviza said...

Dearest Pi,

Oh! the issue of children and education! I can rave on and on about it. Nanti terlebih sudu dari kuah pulak, marah tuan punya blog.

All I am saying is that, no children should be deprived from basic education under whatever extreme circumstances.

You good Pi.

ruby ahmad said...

Hi Pi,

I'm pimping you in my comment box. Th eleast I can do for th kids for now. Take care.

Pi Bani said...

Elviza dearie,
Tuan punya blog tak marah... tak payahkan sudu, you nak pakai senduk pun tak apa...

Pi Bani said...

K.Ruby sayang,
Thank you very much. You take care too!

winniethepooh said...

Thats wonderful Pi Bani, when its Shah's interest thats hes working hard for, its works more wonders
hopefully they will have a class that he can join in next year.

It always takes a wise and observant person (in this case, you) to notice and pick up the interest in these labelled as "uninterested, irresponsible" kids (which infact they are not as you pointed out in Shah's case) and help guide them on to the path again.

Have a great day Pi Bani. You are wonderful

Pi Bani said...

Well I do like to observe people... so yes I guess you can say I am quite observant, although I'm not too sure about the wise part... haha...

And today I'll be on clinic duty... more people to observe...

You have a great day too, Winnie!