Rendering realistic help plays as big a part as education does in enabling young offenders to follow the straight and narrow (Help young offenders with education, by Mr Cheng Choon Fei; Jan 6).
One of my former students was sentenced to the Reformative Training Centre for 18 months during his teens.
When I found out about it, I visited him and corresponded with him.
I encouraged him to study so he could get some qualifications and pursue further studies, if he was interested. He did well in his N-level exams at Prison School. By the time he was released, he was ready to pursue the O levels.
He had to look for a private school for this. I approached fellow colleagues who could help and was heartened that the teachers and school leaders I asked were willing to assist.
Our efforts were well rewarded. My former student crossed the O-level hurdle and continued his studies at a polytechnic. His life has been smooth flowing since then.
My experience shows that besides encouragement, rendering realistic help is important.
My student's family gave him a great deal of support, but there were things they were unsure of. That was where I stepped in.
It may seem like I was spoon-feeding him, but that was what was needed to help him "stand up" strongly in that period.
He is now living a fruitful life, and I am proud of him.
Colin Ting Fook Mun