When at one time I started getting complaints about Azman, Sofie’s son at the culinary school, I thought to myself that maybe, just maybe, I made the wrong decision sending him there at such a young age. But then again, had I not sent him there, he would probably end up just working as helper at food stalls. Even when he was in form 3, he missed school quite often, being more interested helping out at food stalls to get some extra pocket money for himself.
When he indicated he wanted to quit school after PMR and work, I could coax him to still go to school at least up to form 5, and only start working after that. But I wouldn’t be able to make sure he goes to school every day. Chances are, just like when he was in form 3, out of every 5 schooling days each work, he’d skip school 3 times a week. And him being one of the children under our education sponsorship programme, I didn’t want to waste his sponsor’s money knowing pretty well he’s not putting them to good use.
But I knew from his late mother that he loves cooking. So when a friend of mine told me about a culinary school which does accept 16 year olds on a case to case basis (usually they only take SPM leavers), I personally asked Azman if he’d be interested to take up Kitchen Practice at this place, he was all excited about it. At least with the skill he gets from this course can help him to get better jobs since the certificate given out is recognised by the Ministry of Human Resource.
So yes, early this year, he joined the culinary school. I personally sent him there as his mother was not only unwell, she had 2 younger children which she had to send to and fetch from school. I have a friend in the management team of the culinary school so I depended on her to report to me if there were any problems involving Azman.
After a while, the complaints started coming. He had been almost daily chit-chatting with his new girlfriend, a senior 3 years older than him, at the hostel pantry, right up to 2 or 3 am in the morning. The warden/lecturers warned him.
Then when I went to visit Sofie at home, she told me how Azman had been asking for money from her every week. For the record, while waiting for his PTPK loan to be approved, he has been getting monthly pocket money from a donor, banked in straight into his bank account. The amount should be good enough, more than what his mother could afford to give him. So when his mother told me that Azman had been asking her for money too often, I was quite angry with him. He had promised me he wouldn’t trouble his mother, but there he was, even suggesting to his mother to take out money from his younger siblings’ bank accounts!
I gave him a short lecture. Azman seemed to have befriended those from rich families, and so he had been spending just like them. He needed to be reminded how hard his mother had to work despite her ailing condition just to feed him and his siblings.
The next time I went to visit Sofie, I was told that Azman was no longer asking for money from his mother.
Then when Sofie died, instead of staying with his aunt Rozi, who had been entrusted by Sofie to take care of her children, Azman seemed to prefer going to another aunt’s house… the same aunt who had been badmouthing Sofie earlier. At that house he could do whatever he wanted to do without anyone scolding or nagging, unlike his aunt Rozi who’d scold him just like she would her own children if they did anything wrong.
I had to give Azman another short lecture. He should at least have some respect for his aunt Rozi who I could see, cared about the children.
Anyway, yesterday Azman called me up to inform me that he needed to pay a certain amount for the stamping of his study loan agreement. So this morning I went over to the culinary school and went straight to the office, first to pay whatever necessary, and then I had a short chat with one of his lecturers. It was good to know that this lecturer does keep a close watch on her students, even outside the class. And I felt even more relieved when told that Azman had indeed been showing interest in class.
So hopefully I did make the right move by sending him to the culinary school at such a young age…