Man fails cabby test 70 times due to English roadblock

Man fails cabby test 70 times due to English roadblock

He has failed the taxi-driver course 70 times in the last five months.

In fact, he took the test for one of the modules more than 30 times last month alone, once making seven attempts in one day.

But former air-conditioning subcontractor Shi Zhaolin, 61, is not giving up his dream of being a cabby.

When Mr Shi's air-con servicing company closed down two years ago due to financial difficulties, he applied for air-con technician jobs with at least 11 hotels, but to no avail.

He eventually decided to become a taxi driver, Chinese evening daily Lianhe Wanbao reported yesterday.

"I thought it would be easy to pass the course and get the licence, but who knew I'd fail repeatedly because my English is not very good," Mr Shi told the paper.

"I've been failing one particular module because I just can't understand the exam questions."

This module, Taxi Service Overview & Road Safety, is the first of five in the taxi driver vocational licence course. Applicants must pass a test at the end of each module in order to successfully acquire a licence.

Mr Shi, who started taking the licence tests in October, has spent more than $1,000 on fees, paying $15 per test.

He has passed all four other modules and has sat for the Module 1 test every day since before the new year, registering immediately for the next test after each failure.

Mr Shi, who is married and has a 100-year-old mother to support, gets by on odd jobs, occasionally servicing air-cons.

His daily expenses are covered by his daughter, friends and relatives, who have loaned him $1,000 to cover his fees.

On why he has not given up, he said: "My children have been supporting me and I don't want to let them down."

He added that the Singapore Taxi Academy has been waiving $10 off his administrative fees since February, in the light of his financial situation.

A spokesman for the academy said that examination candidates require a basic standard of English and should have obtained at least a pass in English in the N levels.

Candidates without such qualifications are advised to take a workplace literacy course and attain a level 3 pass before enrolling for the taxi driver vocational licence course.

Mr Shi passed such a literacy course in September, but is still unable to comprehend the examination questions, finding them tough because of his age and poor memory.

Still, he is not throwing in the towel.

"I will persevere until I get my licence," he said.


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