Getting a second shot at school

Getting a second shot at school
Muhammad Asyraf Bin Chumino, 20, a first year student at Singapore Polytechnic; Angeline Nadia Lim (right), 44. She was Asyraf's mathematics teacher at Northlight School.

For Mr Muhammad Asyraf Chumino, Northlight School was the chance for a new beginning.

He was 10 when he dropped out of primary school to take care of his widowed mother, who was then suffering from depression.

When she got better two years later, Mr Asyraf wanted to return to school. But without a Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) certificate, his choices were limited.

He enrolled in a Mendaki programme for out-of-school youths and learnt basic numeracy and literacy skills over the next two years.

A mentor then suggested he apply for Northlight, where he was accepted into Secondary 3 after an entrance exam.

Now he is a first-year hotel and leisure facilities management student at Singapore Polytechnic.

"When people see Northlight, they think it's the end because the students there didn't even pass PSLE," said Mr Asyraf, now 20.

"But it opened many doors for me."

Northlight and Assumption Pathway School - which also caters to those who struggle with mainstream studies - have helped reverse an alarming trend among students like Mr Asyraf.

Before these schools were set up, those who failed their PSLE three times had to choose between two-year programmes at the Geylang Serai Vocational Training Centre (GSVTC) and the Assumption Vocational Institute.

Past statistics, however, show that six in 10 failed to finish.

Now, more than eight in 10 students enrolled in Northlight and Assumption Pathway complete the full course of their secondary education, the Ministry of Education (MOE) revealed last month.

On average, Northlight and Assumption Pathway each take in about 200 students annually.

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