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Last updateWed, 11 Nov 2015 11am

Sunday, 02 November 2014 00:00

Easing Parents’ Burden with Tzu Chi Study Grant

Written by  Tzu Chi Documenting Team, KL & Selangor / Translated by Chong Pei Fen

Tzu Chi volunteers handed the envelopes, filled with blessings, to the grant recipients respectfully. [Photograph by Woo Yoke Bee]

On November 2 & 9, 2014, Tzu Chi KL & Selangor held 21 sessions of Tzu Chi Study Grant Presentation Ceremony at various communities. A total of 3,698 students from 388 schools in Klang Valley, including 300-plus children of Tzu Chi care recipients, benefitted from the study grant.


In 1972, Tzu Chi Taiwan initiated a study aid plan for academically outstanding students from low-income families. Following that, Tzu Chi KL & Selangor (formerly known as Tzu Chi KL) started offering study aid to needy students in 1997. Although primary and secondary students in Malaysia are entitled to free education, poor parents, especially those with many school-going children, are burdened with school fees, expenses for new school uniforms, workbooks, reference books, school transport fees and so on, when the schools reopen. To ensure that the study aid serves its purpose, the amount granted has constantly been reviewed in line with the inflation rate.

In 2010, due to security concerns, Tzu Chi KL & Selangor and Tzu Chi Klang banked in the study grant for the recipients. The following year, in addition to cash, the recipients were also awarded coupons for school uniforms, shoes and bags that could be redeemed on the spot. In 2012, some special awards were presented to qualified students on top of the study grant. Also, having learnt from previous experience that some students were unable to get school uniforms and shoes of the right sizes on the spot, in 2012, the recipients were awarded with cash and coupons for redemption of these items at designated stores.

In 2013, Tzu Chi KL & Selangor and its sub-branches launched Tzu Chi Study & Awards Scheme, allowing needy students with outstanding academic achievements to apply for both study grant and awards for commendable conduct. To receive such awards, the students are required to pass three stages of screening, that is, initial home visit; filling up of progress booklet with monthly feedback from respective teachers and parents; and final assessment by the Charity and Education Groups.

However, in 2014, the presentation of awards was called off. This was because of the extra workload for the teachers, who had to fill up of the progress booklets; and many students actually performed this requirement perfunctorily, thereby making it difficult for the assessment team to draw conclusions. Thus, volunteers only focused on promoting the study grant. In addition, the Tzu Chi Education Sponsorship Scheme was also introduced to offer monthly grant to needy students with moderately good results.

From then to now

From 1997 to 2007, only one session of Presentation Ceremony was held annually in schools or Tzu Chi centres to cater for the small number of grant recipients. However, since volunteers started visiting schools and extending its target to include those from different ethnic groups and vernacular schools in 2008, the number of applicants and recipients has increased by tenfold. In view of the students’ location and transportation issues, Tzu Chi started to hold presentation ceremonies at school halls in various communities. This has not only reduced the hassle of travelling, but also enabled more School Principals and teachers to get to know Tzu Chi.

In 2008 and 2009, the presentation ceremonies were held in accordance to school type, and conducted in Mandarin and Bahasa Malaysia concurrently. And, since 2011, Indian volunteers and teachers have provided the interpretations in Tamil to cater to the large number of Indian recipients and their parents, many of whom were not well-versed in Bahasa Malaysia.

Lighten the parents’ burden

C. Arasirani, Principal of SJK(T) Batu Caves, said that many poor students faced difficulties in attending schools due to transportation fees and so on, and had sought external assistance. To her surprise, Tzu Chi volunteers took the proactive approach to walk into the school and offer their help. For this reason, Principal Arasirani called for the students to cherish the love and kindness from the public, spend the money wisely and study hard. She is grateful for the help rendered by Tzu Chi, and hopes to join the volunteers and learn to give after retirement.

Zhou Le Xin, who recently lost her father, was a first time recipient of the study grant. She plans to use the money for her tuition fees and hopes that the financial assistance could ease the burden on her mother, the breadwinner of the family since her late father suffered from depression and lost his job. Her mother praised her for her diligence and hoped that the study grant could help her in her studies.

Le Xin has a special interest in psychology, but for now, she will focus on the present, work step-by-step to complete her studies and strive for her future. A thoughtful and caring Le Xin said, “Only with academic success will I be able to take care of my mum in the future!” She firmly believes that as long as she studies hard, she can secure a job and provide for her family.

Thiviya attended the Presentation Ceremony held at KL Tzu-Chi Jing Si Hall in the company of her mother, Muniamah. With her husband in jail for the past three years, and having to provide for the family, Muniamah’s health has been affected. Thankfully, Thiviya, who is well-behaved and frugal, has been helping her mother with house chores. Due to her passion in learning Mandarin, her mother has allowed her to enroll into a Chinese school since kindergarten. Thiviya is proud to be the only child in the family to attend a Chinese school and hopes to become a Chinese teacher when she grows up.

Persevere despite illness

Li Hui Yan from Jinjang attended the Presentation Ceremony together with her three children, who have been recipients of Tzu Chi’s study grant since they were in Year 1. Her Form 1 eldest son, Chen Jun Jie, was undergoing chemotherapy for leukaemia at the hospital and could not make it to the ceremony. His elder sisters, Chen Pei Ying (Form 5) and Chen Pei Li (Form 3), and younger brother, Chen Jun Kang, were present to receive the study grant.

Jun Jie was diagnosed with leukaemia when he was 18 months old. Upon his request, the Subang Jaya Medical Centre sought help from Buddhist Tzu Chi General Hospital’s Bone Marrow Bank and found a successful bone marrow match. He also managed to obtain a funding of RM50,000/- for his transplant surgery with help from Sin Chew Daily. However, due to a lung infection that lasted three months, he has to wait for a computer tomography scheduled on November 17 and have the bone marrow shipped over after obtaining the examination report.

His father has resorted to selling fruits after injuring his hands in an accident. Except on Sundays, he goes to his fruit stall after sending his children to school. His mother informed that the study grant has allayed her worries on the children’s expenses when schools reopen. Besides their school uniforms, her growing children need to get at least two pairs (due to their poor quality) of new shoes every year. Thus, even with the study grant, the mother would still need to pay an extra RM100 to RM200.

Jun Jie’s mother has felt sorry for her daughter, Pei Li, a Form 3 student, who has a mild learning disability. She cannot afford to send Pei Li to tuition classes and is unable to coach her personally, as she has to care for Jun Jie. Understanding her family’s financial predicament, and realizing that a large portion of Tzu Chi’s aid has been spent on her tuition fees since Form 3, the eldest daughter, Pei Ying, has been studying very hard.

Ever since he fell sick, Jun Jie, who had performed fairly in school, could not attend classes. Fortunately, his teacher is kind enough to teach him at the hospital. His mother said, “Jun Jie knows that life will be bitter if he does not study hard now. What’s more, he is sick and cannot take up laborious jobs.” On a positive note, Jun Jie has scored an “A” grade and “Bs” for the rest in his UPSR (primary school evaluation test) and has advanced to Form 1 without having to attend the preparatory class.

Be forever grateful

Both Yan Yin Ni, a Form 4 student from SMK Kepong Baru, and her mother, Wei Qu Yi, are very happy that her application has been approved once again. When asked whether the study grant is important to her, Yin Ni replied shyly and softly that her parents make little money and this study grant can be a great help to fund her living and school expenses. She added that it is difficult to make money and promised to put the money to good use. She also hopes that she will not burden others, but instead be able to help others. She encouraged those around her to refrain from doing evil and be a promising person.

Her mother said, “The study grant is very helpful, especially when I need to pay school fees for my four children in the new school term. It is like a timely rain that eases our plight.” Touched by the volunteers’ selfless love, she often reminds her children to be kind and contribute to society. The father added that he was deeply touched by the volunteers’ help in Yin Ni’s chiropractic treatment. He hopes that his daughter will remember the kindness and be forever grateful.

 

In 2014, four sessions of Presentation Ceremony were held in KL Tzu-Chi Jing Si Hall, whereas the rest were held at various communities. The students are seen here happily walking on the gallery ramp. [Photograph by Choo Kok Choi]   While waiting for the ceremony to start, Tzu Chi volunteers shared with the parents Tzu Chi's charitable work and invited them to join the rank of great love. [Photograph by Woo Yoke Bee]

In 2014, four sessions of Presentation Ceremony were held in KL Tzu-Chi Jing Si Hall, whereas the rest were held at various communities. The students are seen here happily walking on the gallery ramp. [Photograph by Choo Kok Choi]
 
While waiting for the ceremony to start, Tzu Chi volunteers shared with the parents Tzu Chi's charitable work and invited them to join the rank of great love. [Photograph by Woo Yoke Bee]
 
C. Arasirani, Principal of SJK(T) Batu Caves, called for the students to cherish the love and kindness from the public, spend the money wisely and study hard.【Photograph by Sam Pin Fook】   Muniamah accompanied her daughter, Thiviya, to the Presentation Ceremony held at KL Tzu-Chi Jing Si Hall. [Photograph by Sam Pin Fook]

C. Arasirani, Principal of SJK(T) Batu Caves, called for the students to cherish the love and kindness from the public, spend the money wisely and study hard.【Photograph by Sam Pin Fook】
 
 
Muniamah accompanied her daughter, Thiviya, to the Presentation Ceremony held at KL Tzu-Chi Jing Si Hall. [Photograph by Sam Pin Fook]
 
A parent, Li Hui Yan, attended the Presentation Ceremony with three of her children. Her eldest son, Chen Jun Jie, a leukaemia patient, is waiting for a bone marrow transplant surgery. [Photograph by Woo Yoke Bee]   One of the grant recipients, Yan Yin Ni, shared her feelings with the audience members. [Photograph by Choo Kok Choi]

A parent, Li Hui Yan, attended the Presentation Ceremony with three of her children. Her eldest son, Chen Jun Jie, a leukaemia patient, is waiting for a bone marrow transplant surgery. [Photograph by Woo Yoke Bee]
 
 
One of the grant recipients, Yan Yin Ni, shared her feelings with the audience members. [Photograph by Choo Kok Choi]
 
The children are happy to receive the study grant. [Photograph by Sam Pin Fook]  

The children are happy to receive the study grant. [Photograph by Sam Pin Fook]