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Sunday January 14th 2018

Appeal for waiver of $76,000 bond payment for failing teaching course from Minister of education Mr Heng Swee Kiat

To: Mr Heng Swee Kiat
Minister for Education

Dear Sir,

I am appealing on behalf of Mr Zulfikli, who has written to us regarding MOE’s request for his daughter Zafirah Hamizah Bte Zulfikli  to pay back a bond of $76,000 for failing her teaching course at NIE.

We also find the bond payback both ridiculous and unreasonable especially when hundreds of millions of taxpayer money is splashed on foreign students studying on scholarship here.

In the first place, it was MOE who had failed her and want her to leave the service and not the other way round – in what way has she actually rescinded on her bond?

As stated in the trainee contract “All trainee teachers have to sign the Teachers’ Training Agreement. If you break the bond, you will have to pay liquidated damages. The amount will be pro-rated based on the expenses incurred by the Government for your tuition fees and salaries during your NIE training. There is also a 10% compound interest.”

It’s clearly stated that if a trainee breaks the bond, they would have to pay the liquidated damages.

But this is not the case with Mr Zufikil’s daughter.

Mr Zulfikli’s daughter has failed her practicum twice and was asked to leave.

Isn’t it the duty of her supervisors and HOD to guide her through her weakness after the first failed practicum?

Moreover, if she failed, it reflects more on the failure of her mentors to guide her well than anything else!

MOE should take a closer look on why she failed and how well has she been coached by her teacher-in-charge, mentor, HOD and supervisors.

They are responsible for her to earn a pass and has a duty to ensure and guide her through her practicum adequately.

In any case, as she is not the one who chooses to leave the service but has been advised so, thus she is not breaking any bond as stated per the terms and conditions of her contract signed with MOE.

On behalf of Mr Zulfikli, who as a concerned father is worried for her daughter’s future, we hope that MOE would be kind enough to look into this matter and work out an amicable solution for all parties.

We await your decision on this matter please so that there is proper closure for the family.

Thanks & Warmest Regards,
Gilbert Goh

Transitioning – unemployment support services

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11 Responses to “Appeal for waiver of $76,000 bond payment for failing teaching course from Minister of education Mr Heng Swee Kiat”

  1. Manson says:

    That not right to ask the government to forgo the bond debt. That more like cheating the country money. The government have to uphold the interest of the country. Every dollars spend must be accorded for.

  2. oute says:

    Why did she failed…maybe they should help her in her weakness…

    After all, she went thru the whole course…

  3. sal says:

    If the Gov can give scholarship freely to foreigners, what is $76k to them….taxpayers money. Its all case to case basis..n this gal is not from a well to do family. Hope it will become a reminder to the gal n others when they sign a contract in future.

  4. Bewildered says:

    Dear gilbert,
    It is not just the responsibility of the government or anyone else but also hers as well. If she had problems, she could have engage the help of others in overcoming her weakness. I believe the contract states that if she failed another time, probdbly this would have violated the contract. What is her side of her story for failing the exams? Or rather the excuses? If everyone who joins nie with a scholarship ends up failing, should the government also give them waivers? It is exactly the same as the army where you sign on as a regular with a bond. BUT then again, the government should make an exception and should consider letting her try again instead of just failing her and charging her for the “damages”.

    Just my 2 cents.

  5. Anthony says:

    From what i know many nurses from china broke their bonds and ran away without paying their bonds,and minister Khaw boon hwan said in parliment he will still recruit from china even though taxpayers money lost.Double standard.

  6. Chillax says:

    All you armchair critics have no idea what the poor girl went through. She did not voluntarily broke her bond but they decided that she is not suitable because she failed her assessment which by the way is hugely subjective and not assess in a quantifiable manner.

    she should not be considered breaking her bond in this case and therefore compensation should not be asked from her. MOE if standing by their assessment decide she is unsuitable, could decline her an contract but not ask her for compensation. Gilbert raised a valid point here. Shame on those who think she should pay the $76k!

    • Christine says:

      Once you sign a bond, you are legally bound by the contract, regardless.

      Just because you make a poor decision on it does not mean you should be excused from your contractual obligation. You are actually telling everyone else that it is ok to run away from your responsibility!

      What kind of message do you think you are sending? That some people should be excused for their mistakes? That is is alright to be excused for a mistake made by yourself? That irresponsibility can be condone?

      Shame on YOU instead, Chillax. You set a very appalling example to the rest of us, and even bigger shame on you if you have children.

      • Low Choon Yong says:

        You and me, as well as Chillax, we all don’t know the details of this particular case. What happens if some kind of unfair treatment or victimization did actually take place? So, we are in fact all in a poor situation to comment. However, for the benefit of doubt and for compassionate reason, I would prefer that the young lady and her family be granted the waiver of the penalty. The young lady has already wasted a long duration going through the course and being told to leave at the end, and that it is not a small sum for any family. Do we need to be so cold-blooded in treating a fellow Singaporean?

  7. xyz says:

    I’m familiar with the wordings of govt bonds & contracts. They will not say break bond, but will state it as “in the event the bond is not fulfilled”.

    What constitutes non-fulfilment of bond is not stated and can be very broad:
    - not passing exams / course.
    - not meeting minimum requirements of job.
    - poor performance while already in the job & being asked to leave / fired.
    - being unable to fulfil duties of bond requirements e.g. commit crime & jailed, becoming bankrupt, due to serious illness, death.

    Yes, if you die before you complete your bond, you are technically & legally breaking bond and the govt/ministry can sue your guarantors/family for liquidated damages. But so far, my experience is that ministries usually will waive under compassionate grounds.

    For serious illness, unless it is total & permanent disability, the govt / ministries will usually re-assign the staff to another less demanding role (with pay cut & career cut of course).

    With all that being said, the best approach for Zafirah is to appeal for re-assessment of practicum, and perhaps at primary school level instead of secondary school level.

    The irony of the whole thing is that “high-flyer” mid-career switchers like ex-lawyers and ex-bankers are usually given practicums in the best schools and best classes where it is very easy to teach. Hell, the students there practically teach themselves. The principals and dept heads are also instructed to “help” these high-flyers to pass.

  8. Anna says:

    i have a similar bond and thus i understand what shes going thru, Moe is strict on practicum n values handling students (classroom management skill) as well. thus that i believe could be the reason why she failed since she has passed her dip n manage to pull thru till her nie practicum, meaning she has learnt lesson planning n delivery skills in nie.

  9. Niu says:

    Hi Mr Zulfikli,
    How can I contact you?

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