'No pain, no gain': Teen inspired by mum's belief

Amanda, a beneficiary of The Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund, credits mum Juliana for inspiring her to do well in the PSLE.
Amanda, a beneficiary of The Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund, credits mum Juliana for inspiring her to do well in the PSLE.ST PHOTO: AZMI ATHNI

On Hari Raya Aidilfitri, which falls on Wednesday, 13-year-old Nurul Amanda will be visiting relatives and enjoying her favourite dishes like rendang and sambal udang with her mother and three sisters.

It is a stark contrast to a year ago, when Amanda was failing mathematics and science in school, as the year-end Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) loomed.

"I kept doing badly in the first semester, and during the June holidays I decided that I couldn't do that badly for the PSLE," she recalled.

Amanda studied hard and scored an A-Star for Mother Tongue, As for English and mathematics, and a B for Science. Her T-Score was 239.

She was also among 10 beneficiaries of The Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund (STSPMF) who received cash prizes from HSBC bank earlier this year for good PSLE results.

The person who inspired her to do well, said Amanda, was her mother, Madam Juliana Hassan, 42, a school canteen stall assistant. She has been the family's sole breadwinner since her divorce in 2012.

A fervent believer in the saying "no pain, no gain", the mother of four, constantly pushes her four daughters - aged 18, 16, 13 and nine - to always achieve their best.

"The way I love them is not to pamper them with things that they want. Whatever they want, they need to work hard for them, because nothing comes easy in life," she said.

Inspired by her mother's belief, Amanda aimed to obtain a PSLE T-score of at least 220.

She studied at a library every day after school until 5.30pm, and had free tuition in English and mathematics from self-help group Yayasan Mendaki during the weekends.

On her daughter's PSLE results, Madam Juliana said: "She didn't expect to get such results...we were overjoyed."

Amanda received a monthly allowance of $60 provided by the STSPMF, which she used for her meals during recess in school and lunch before she headed to the library. Lunch was usually simple fare of mee rebus or mee siam.

"The money helped a lot with these expenses," said Madam Juliana.

The STSPMF provides pocket money to children from low-income families. They can use the money for school-related expenses, such as buying meals during recess.

Amanda and her family mostly have homecooked meals for dinner. They eat out at hawker centres only once a month.

Madam Juliana earns $50 per day as a school canteen stall assistant. During the June and December school holidays when the canteen is closed, she has to look for other jobs to supplement her income. Last month, she baked and sold cakes and cookies during the Hari Raya festive season.

Amanda, now a Secondary 1 student at Yishun Town Secondary School, continues to do well in her studies. She scored As and Bs in the last semester.


Correction note: An earlier version of the story stated that Madam Juliana earns $50 an hour as a school canteen stall assistant, this is incorrect. She earns $50 per day. The story also stated that Amanda received a monthly allowance of $55 provided by the STSPMF, this is incorrect. She received $60. We are sorry for the errors.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 04, 2016, with the headline ''No pain, no gain': Teen inspired by mum's belief'. Print Edition | Subscribe