Financial setback cast pall over son's graduation

The threat by a school to hold back the result slips of some students troubled me deeply. It is something that should not happen.

(School to release O-level results of students who missed 'prom', Jan 12; Threat to withhold O-level results uncalled for, by Mr Tan Ah Ung; Jan 15).

I feel strongly about it because my son was in a similar situation when he completed his polytechnic diploma course in March last year.

He was under a financial assistance scheme but the polytechnic said that I had missed the deadline to apply for the financial assistance for his final year, and there was an outstanding fee of $733.25.

Because of this, he was sidelined while his cohort received their graduation gowns.

I offered to settle the outstanding amount in instalments, which was accepted on the condition thathe not receive his diploma certificate until the final instalment was paid.

My son eventually got to attend the graduation ceremony, but he received only an empty folder from the VIP on stage.

While his schoolmates posed for photographs with their diploma certificates afterwards, my son could only clutch the empty folder.

It was a joyous occasion for all but my son.

When my son was enlisted into the army, I appealed to the polytechnic for an early release of his diploma certificate, with the assurance that the balance instalments would be settled.

The polytechnic rejected my appeal and offered instead to issue an academic transcript which listed his modules and grades.

As this was not the real thing, I declined the offer. I borrowed money to pay the polytechnic and collected my son's diploma certificate then sent him off proudly to serve our country.

My appeal to all educational institutions is this: Show some compassion. Don't penalise your students if their parents have financial setbacks. After all, our Government's call is that we be a compassionate society.

Gilbert Pereira