Support Site for The Unemployed & Underemployed
Monday December 2nd 2019

Famous theatre-maker advocated for release of result after almost never getting his O level result due to owed school fees

IF YOU OR ANYONE YOU KNOW HAVE UNPAID SCHOOL FEES

1. I would consider myself as an average student when it comes to academic results. As a child all the way to my adolescent years, I ensure that I score decently just so that I don’t get whacked by my mother. However, if I do really well, I am able to nicely ask for a thing or two. Back then, it could be the latest gadgets or a book I really want. This was also the only time I truly felt my mother, a single-mom, was giving her fullest attention to me. One can only imagine the eagerness and suspense I experienced when getting back my results – good or bad.

2. But the suspense was carried a little bit too far in January 2012, when I returned to my alma mater to collect my O-levels results. Long story short, my result slip was withheld from me due to unpaid school fees which amounted to $600 plus. Naturally (and brattily), I was terribly upset at my mother for allowing the fees to cumulate to such exorbitant amount. I think I just dropped her a text and quickly went to a nearby ATM to withdraw money. Luckily, I had savings from the part-time retail job I did the previous holiday period.

3. I remember feeling embarrassed, angry, and sad. I was the only one in my cohort who wasn’t allowed to even look at my result slip until the fees were cleared at the general office. Alhamdullillah because all that immediately went away as I saw my results… That moment was overwhelming… I did really well!

4. Fast-forward to a week ago, this issue was brought to light by my friend, someone who I greatly admire and respect, Gilbert Goh. It’s long overdue and of course, he is the right person to bring attention to such issues. This morning, I reached to him to share my own experience with regards to this issue.

5. I’m grateful to have the opportunity to mingle and understand people from extreme ends – from conservatives to moderates to activist. It is absolutely necessary for me to understand these perspectives as a theatre-maker. I was raised by a single-mom in a matriarchal family. I have walked alongside convicts, children with brain tumor, the elderly community… I fought for and with the teachers, LGBTQIA community, domestic workers, women from abused circumstances, children and community from the disenfranchised… I am not an activist. What I am is an advocate… An advocate on issues that matters. An advocate on issues that are relevant. An advocate for a better world in which all of us can learn to co-exist together through the understanding of each other’s differences. I am proud of this record and I will continue to speak truth to power. I am informed by my personal journey and the story of others that came before me.

6. But here’s one thing I admire about activists, they are persistent in their cause and they take direct action. I can only share in the happiness as I saw the community action that was rallied over the past few days led by Gilbert Goh. They have come together to create a pool of funds to be used to help those who need to settle their overdue or unpaid school fees. A school-going child or anyone who wants to study should not be penalised for their financial situation. We cannot enable such systemic injustices in the society we are living in. I had first-hand experience as a student struggling to get by my schooling years because based on the archaic per-capita income, I am considered as a “middle-class” individual. My story is one of many. It is one TOO MANY…

7. Today, I’m helping Gilbert Goh to reach out to anyone who needs help with their school fees. Regardless of your income status, if you cannot afford it, need partial help, let us know. You can connect to me directly by responding to this post, or PM-ing me, or contact Gilbert Goh directly. I fully acknowledge that this is just a temporary solution to a much larger issue. That is why we must do all that we can… It’s a start!

8. I’ll leave you with one of my favourite quotes by Barbara Colorose, “If kids come to us from strong, healthy functioning families, it makes our job easier. If they do not come to us from strong, healthy, functioning families, it makes our job more important.”

P.S. I have put the privacy of this post as “Public”. Please share if you want to. You never know who will benefit from it. Have a great week!

Zam

Editor’s note: Reposted from Facebook of Zam with permission.

Zam or Muhammad Muazzam Amanah now 23  earned his bachelor of theatre arts degree (Honours) at Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, validated by the University of Essex and has his own art house Players’ Avenue.

Zam also acted in Lanang (Boy) a play written by playwright Hafidz Abdul Rahman playing the role of the grandson and advocated that children should never be denied their exam certificate despite unpaid school fees.

He said: “I resonated greatly with regards to the late fees issue.

My O-level cert was withheld from me until I cleared my fees. I wasn’t even able to look at it. And among the many hundreds from the same cohort, I was the only one with my cert withheld.”

For the record, Zam achieved a commendable result of 17 points of which he is elated considering his poor mid and prelim result.

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