S'pore's 40,000 needy students: One girl wants to break poverty cycle

S'pore's 40,000 needy students: One girl wants to break poverty cycle

Syahera knows where drug addicts leave syringes in the stairwell at her block.

She also knows which tables between her block and the next are good for studying, and which to avoid because drinkers will later claim their spot.

Syahera is 12 and this is home.

Her family asked that her picture not be used to prevent embarrassment.

On one of the days The New Paper visited her, there were three empty vodka bottles left at the void-deck table where she usually studies.

"I can get distracted, because people throw things down when I'm doing work and I'm scared they will hit me. Sometimes I'm unhappy, sometimes I'm scared," she said.

She's the third generation of a family that has lived in the same one-room flat for the past six years. She lives with her grandparents, uncle and two younger cousins; as well as another uncle occasionally. Her father lives elsewhere with her future stepmother.

While it's easy to feel sorry for themselves, Syahera's family are banking on her breaking through the poverty cycle.

"They want me to get an education, maybe because they are not educated. I feel proud they have that hope for me," she said.

FOURTH IN CLASS

The Fengshan Primary pupil took her Primary School Leaving Examination last month, and is aiming to qualify for Temasek Secondary School.

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