PSLE student's long and painful road to recovery

SINGAPORE - Just three days before her first PSLE exam paper on Sept 27, an accident during a batik painting class involving hot wax left her right arm and hand heavily bandaged .

Nicole (we are not using her real name to spare her embarrassment) had to sit for all five papers with the help of a "scribe" who took instructions from Nicole and helped her to fill the papers as she could not write because of her injury.

A towel had to be placed under Nicole's arm, which was in a cast and oozing brown fluid as it was still healing from the burns.

Last week, the 12-year-old girl received her PSLE results with a T-score of 235. She received an A* for Malay, A for English, B for maths and science, and a merit for higher Malay.

The vice-head prefect of her school said: "I am very, very relieved. I scored higher than I had expected." Going through the examination was no easy feat. Besides the discomfort, it was hard for her to work with the scribe.

She explained: "It was harder for maths. I told her to draw a box (for model-drawing) and she asked me if I wanted to draw a square or rectangle. I had never thought of things like that."

Her mother, a manager, in her 40s, was also very relieved with her results.

She said: "She was very motivated and full of energy just before the accident. But she had to go to the hospital and was under medication so she couldn't really revise just before the exams."

Nicole's road to recovery was a long-drawn and painful process.

Just a day before her first English language paper, she had to visit the hospital to re-dress her wound.

Her father, a senior consultant in his 40s, said: "She told me when they were removing her blisters on her fingers: 'Daddy, please tell them to stop.' "

It did not help that people around Nicole were asking her about the accident.

Safety measures

The father said: "She was very grouchy at first. It reached a stage where she would get upset when people mentioned the incident. "

But when The New Paper visited Nicole at her home a day before the release of the PSLE results, the confident and articulate girl was in good spirits.

It has been almost three months since the accident and she is almost fully recovered.

Her parents are very proud of her for overcoming her ordeal but they are still demanding an answer from the school.

Her mother said: "I've two younger children in the same school. I want to know if there are relevant and thorough safety checks on the vendors and procedures."

Safety measures

When contacted, a spokesman for the Ministry of Education (MOE) said: "The school had explained to the parents of the injured student on the circumstances of the incident and the safety measures adopted for the batik painting class.

"The school had also applied for special consideration with Singapore Examinations and Assessment Board for the student's PSLE.

"When a student is injured in an accident, the school will make an assessment on the extent of the injury. When necessary, the school will arrange to send the injured student to a nearby clinic or hospital's A & E department. The school will also contact the parents. "

The spokesman added that MOE schools are careful in selecting vendors and instructors with credentials and who understand their requirements. The school would also carry out review of the safety measures for such lessons.

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