SkillsFuture initiatives

Father-of-five holds four diplomas and a degree

Mr Mohamed Ali N. Sarwar, 43, with his mother, Madam Fathimah Abdullah, 64, after the UniSIM convocation ceremony on Oct 7. Mr Ali, a firm believer in lifelong learning, earned a degree in building and project management.
Mr Mohamed Ali N. Sarwar, 43, with his mother, Madam Fathimah Abdullah, 64, after the UniSIM convocation ceremony on Oct 7. Mr Ali, a firm believer in lifelong learning, earned a degree in building and project management.ST PHOTO: DESMOND FOO

SINGAPORE - A family that studies together stays together, it seems.

For the most part of the past three years, Mr Mohamed Ali N. Sarwar, who started a part-time degree course at SIM University (UniSIM) in 2012, held weekday study sessions with his school-going children and wife, who was pursuing a diploma.

"I wanted to prove to my kids that if I could study, they too could do it," said Mr Ali, 43. "We motivated each other. When I was tired, they would encourage me."

A firm believer in lifelong learning, he has, over the past two decades, earned four diplomas, including one in civil engineering and one in project management.

Last month, the project manager at urbanisation consultancy Surbana Jurong graduated with a degree in building and project management from UniSIM, the main university here for working adults. A total of 2,248 students received their degree scrolls across five ceremonies.

This is the highest number of students to graduate since UniSIM's inaugural convocation a decade ago.

Mr Ali hopes the study sessions will spur his five children, aged between five and 17, to study hard. His wife, a 41-year-old clerical executive, completed her diploma in business administration in April .

"It is never too late to learn new things," said Mr Ali, who had to juggle his studies with work and family commitments. "It was challenging, but my family and colleagues were supportive and understanding."

As part of the SkillsFuture initiative to encourage Singaporeans to adopt lifelong learning, UniSIM will make learning more attractive for its alumni, said UniSIM president Cheong Hee Kiat.

Under its Alumni Continuing Education programme, introduced in 2008, alumni are offered fee incentives to return and upgrade their knowledge and skills. Starting from this year's graduating class, graduates will be able to take two UniSIM modular courses for free or at a small cost if they do so within two years of graduation. These courses are in areas such as applied health sciences and accountancy.

Calvin Yang

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 09, 2015, with the headline 'Father-of-five holds four diplomas and a degree'. Print Edition | Subscribe