Maid takes degree course, with employers' support

After her time here, Ms Mince plans to go back to her Indonesian village and teach English. -- ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN
After her time here, Ms Mince plans to go back to her Indonesian village and teach English. -- ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

Juggling work and studies is no mean feat, but maid Mince Djara Lodu managed to do just that, graduating with a degree from the Indonesia Open University last December.

Ms Mince (pronounced Min-cher) works for Mrs Juliette Lim and Mr Loe Kok Weng, both in their 60s, and came to Singapore in 2002 when she was just 19.

Now 31, she can proudly say that she has a degree from the Department of English for Translation in the Faculty of Social and Political Sciences.

Maids pursuing further studies have been in the news recently, with a Filipino maid from Hong Kong awarded the prestigious Magnum Foundation Human Rights scholarship to New York University.

Ms Mince, who is from the province of Nusa Tenggara Timur in Indonesia, spotted an advertisement placed by the university in the newspapers and decided to sign up in 2011.

Initially taking up an IT course, she switched to studying English for translation on the advice of her employer, Mrs Lim.

Ms Mince balanced her time between doing housework and studying online lessons in her room. She would occasionally attend tutorials and examinations at the Sekolah Indonesia Singapore in Siglap Road.

Her employers supported her decision to pursue further education, taking her to the school as well as subsidising some of the costs of the programme. Mrs Lim said: "I also encouraged her to study. I don't want to see her carry on as a domestic worker all the time, because I feel that she's quite intelligent and learns fast."

Ms Mince plans to go back and teach children in her village English after she has finished working here. She explained: "English is not really taught to them the right way, so maybe I can help to teach them correctly."

The Indonesia Open University (Universitas Terbuka) was established in 1984 with the objective of providing expansive opportunity for Indonesian citizens and foreigners, wherever their place of residence, to attain higher education.

isaacneo@sph.com.sg