Singaporeans experienced a horrendous national shame recently on the issue of needy students who could not pay up their primary school fees and subjecting them to the humiliation of receiving a photostated copy of their PSLE certificate instead of the original one. We believe that there are many children out there who still could only clinch on to a photostated copy of their PSLE certificate just because they owed MOE school fees due to various personal reasons.
Moreover, tying the owed school fees however small the amount is to the original PSLE certificate is like holding the child to ransom when he is not entirely at fault. This not only severely embarrassed the child in front of his school mates but also inculcate the flawed value of being punished just because one is poor.
On this juncture, we also want to applaud the various financial aid scheme available for needy students notably FAS (Financial Assistance Scheme) and lauded MOE for trying to ensure that no child will be left behind educationally as for many poor families a good education is the only way out of poverty.
However, through our interaction with needy families who owed MOE school fees, we realised that many of them have fallen through the social welfare crack. Some were doing well before but face a retrenchment, others were having trouble getting the FAS forms filled completely as the family has broken up and important information was lost in transition whereas another group could not make the FAS cut of $2650 gross household income and has struggled incessantly to make ends meet.
Let us face it - Singapore is a tough place to live in due to the high cost of living and we have achieved the most expensive city tag for the past few years unchallenged. We all tried our level best to cope with all the incoming bills and sometimes may have leave certain ones unpaid.
On this fundraising platform, I am appealing for Singaporeans to help one another - specifically those who are unable to meet the FAS criteria due to various reasons and they have struggled to pay for their children school fees for both the PSLE and GCE N/O level. We will do our dire diligence when dispensing the funds and priority will be given to families who have single parent, are widowed or live in rental flats but we will promise to be as inclusive as possible.
We will encourage needy families to apply for FAS first as that is the right channel for those who could not cope financially and only help those who fall through the social crack.
We will also publish the fund's usage and balance periodically on our FB so that everything is transparent and above-board.
Let us unite together and support one another so that our society is more egalitarian and hopefully the rich-poor social gap will be narrowed.
More significantly, no child must face the shame of not having his PSLE result certificate just because he is unable to pay for his school fees due to personal reasons.