UNEQUAL CHILDHOODS

Extra help from teachers helped pupil lift her marks

ST PHOTO: CHNG CHOON HIONG

ANNA

Then: Shy. Her parents spoke to her and her siblings only in Mandarin and dialect

Now: Her English has improved greatly and she is aiming for the Normal (Academic) stream

Like Lim Qi, Anna too loved to draw and colour pictures when she was six.

But when we asked her at that time about the drawings she had produced for her kindergarten teacher, the quiet child shied away.

She also offered little information when asked basic questions like how many brothers and sisters she had and what her favourite colour was.

Her housewife mum and lorry driver father said her shyness was due to the fact that they spoke only in Mandarin and dialect to their three girls, including Anna.

But fast forward six years and Anna's English has improved by leaps and bounds, thanks to her teachers. She now readily recounts how all the "extra help" she got from her teachers helped to lift her marks across all subjects.

Anna's parents have asked that her school not be identified to protect her identity.

Said the slightly-built girl in a soft, but confident voice: "My teacher in Primary 3 was very kind and gave me a lot of help. She was always caring and will give me extra homework to help me. She will also always encourage me."

 
 

She is aiming for the Normal (Academic) stream in Broadrick Secondary, a 30-minute bus ridefrom her home, a three-room HDB flat.

Her housewife mum said she is very grateful for the pre-school and primary school teachers who helped Anna. She said in Mandarin: "My two older girls studied hard and got into Normal (Academic) and I am hoping my youngest one will also be able to do that. Her teacher said she can."

She added that although she and her husband did not study beyond primary school, they feel education is very important. "I will be very happy when all my three girls make it to poly. Then they can go and get good jobs, maybe in nursing, and take care of my husband and me, " she said, adding that they are even thinking of sending Anna for tuition at a neighbourhood tuition centre.

"I told her to go for tuition for two months before PSLE," she said. The family had set some money aside to pay for the tuition.

Anna said she struggled with her English and Mathematics in lower primary. But the Learning Support Programme helped her do better after Primary 3.

It also helped that she attended the student care centre located on the school premises, after school hours. "We eat lunch, play games and get help to do our homework. I stay there until I come home at 6pm. My mother and father cannot help me in my homework, only my older sister can help."

Beyond making it to Normal (Academic) stream and on to polytechnic, she said she really doesn't know what job would interest her in the future." "I sometimes think I want to be a teacher, but my teacher told me that to become a teacher I have to make it to Express stream and then junior college.

"I have improved in my studies but I don't think I can make it to junior college. I think I can make it to poly and maybe become a nurse.

"As my mother says, I have to study hard."


The feature in The Straits Times six years ago.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 15, 2018, with the headline 'Extra help from teachers helped pupil lift her marks'. Print Edition | Subscribe