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Sunday, 04 December 2016 00:00

Tzu Chi Happy Schooling Scheme Eases Parents’ Burden

Written by  Choung Mou Hin, Miri / Translated by Chew Chiau Ping

A total of 183 primary and secondary students from low-income families received study grants from Tzu Chi Miri, Sarawak. [Photograph by Koo Han Wu]

On December 4, 2016, Tzu Chi Miri Chapter held the Happy Schooling Scheme’s Study Grant Presentation Ceremony at its Liaison Office. The event benefitted 44 students from Chinese primary schools, 82 from national primary schools and 40 from national secondary schools. Among the 183 recipients, 8 primary and 9 secondary students are children of Tzu Chi’s care recipients.


When explaining the Happy Schooling Scheme, volunteer Goh Ek Peng asked the audience, “What would happen if you study hard?” A Primary 5 student from SJK(C) Chung San, Chen Cai Wei raised her hand and said, “There’ll be many angels,” probably implying that those who study hard will receive help from angels to ease their schooling path. Her innocent reply left many volunteers to find the long and weary home visits worthwhile.

Beginning this year, Tzu Chi Study Grant was incorporated as part of the Happy Schooling Scheme, which also provides achievement award, and meal and transport subsidies.

The study grant is meant to ease the financial burden of family coping with the new school term. Under the scheme, secondary and primary school beneficiaries will receive RM200 and RM150 respectively. This year, Tzu Chi Miri also prepared an additional food pack worth RM50 for each recipient. Previously known as the “Education Sponsorship Scheme”, the achievement award rewards students from low-income families for their outstanding performance. The primary and secondary school beneficiaries will receive a monthly grant of RM100 and RM200 respectively; and these amounts will be deposited into their bank accounts.

Volunteer Chung Ming Mei pointed out that not all recipients under the Happy Schooling Scheme will receive all four provisions. Their entitlements were determined based on their actual need after due assessments by volunteers. This year, a total of eight schools in Miri received transport and meal subsidies. A daily meal subsidy of RM3 is paid by Tzu Chi to respective school canteens, and the beneficiaries will redeem their food using coupons. The transport subsidy, on the other hand, is paid directly to school bus drivers.

Food subsidy rid the children of hunger

Teacher Yan Ya Zhu represented SJK(C) Chung Hua Tudan in the ceremony as their students were proud recipients of the study grant as well. Among them was Kelvin, a Primary 2 student. As his mother had to bring the father for treatment at the dialysis centre, Kelvin had to miss school often to care for his brother.

Without pocket money from his parents, Kelvin had to remain in the classroom while others flocked to the canteen during recess. He could hardly concentrate in class due to hunger. Therefore, Teacher Yan was grateful for the Happy Schooling Scheme, as students like Kevin could enjoy going to school, now that their meals were subsidized by Tzu Chi. Teacher Yan also informed that before the transport subsidy was introduced, certain bus drivers refused to pick up students whose parents had not paid up, resulting in poor attendance. That problem was resolved with Tzu Chi’s subsidies.

Happy Schooling Scheme benefits students from poor families

Patricia Iny, a single mother of four, had her fair share of struggles as well. One of her children stays with her brother in a remote inland area, while Patricia becomes the sole breadwinner of the family. To make matters worse, she could only take up odd jobs due to her mother’s constant need for dialysis.

A tearful Patricia revealed her struggle with unstable income, and that her children had no pocket money or food. Therefore, the meal and transport subsidies have alleviated her burden, and her children have found joy in school. She hopes the financial aid could go further to improve her children’s studies.

Another family of nine depended on the meagre income of the father, who has a heart disease. The poor condition of his health made him unfit for work sometimes. Thus, they had no choice but to turn to friends and relatives for money. If they were lucky, they would get a loan of around RM30 to RM40, which was enough to buy rice. Out of seven children, four of them are still in school, and the two in SK Tudan are recipients of transport subsidy. The mother, Irine Bulan was choked with sadness as she related how her family had to move around as they could not afford the house rental. When they took shelter at relatives’ place, she had to endure their complaints for the trouble caused by her children. Although apologetic, she was utterly helpless.

All this while, she has been keeping the sorrow to herself. Therefore, the volunteers at the Presentation Ceremony were happy to comfort her. She hoped her children could continue with their studies to become knowledgeable people, as education could be their way out of poverty.



The Presentation Ceremony was held in two sessions. The morning session took place in two different halls, and was conducted in Malay and Chinese languages respectively. The volunteers also put together a short sketch to explain the details of Happy Schooling Scheme to the parents.

During the ceremony, a video about the plight of a Rohingya refugee was shown. After living as scavengers for ten years, the boy was referred by Tzu Chi to receive education at UNHCR Tzu Chi Education Centre. Eventually, the boy was hired by Tzu Chi Free Clinic to help with interpretation for the doctors and Burmese patients. It moved many to tears to witness how an opportunity for education had improved the living conditions of a family.

Tzu Chi volunteers and recipients of study grant bowed to each other in mutual gratitude. [Photograph by Koo Han Wu]   Students filled the bamboo bank with their tokens of appreciation to reciprocate the help they received. [Photograph by Koo Han Wu]

Tzu Chi volunteers and recipients of study grant bowed to each other in mutual gratitude. [Photograph by Koo Han Wu]
 
Students filled the bamboo bank with their tokens of appreciation to reciprocate the help they received. [Photograph by Koo Han Wu]
 
Tzu Chi Miri prepared a food pack for each recipient in addition to the study grant. [Photograph by Koo Han Wu]   A video about the plight of a Rohingya refugee was played during the ceremony. With Tzu Chi’s help, the family’s living conditions had changed for the better. [Photograph by Koo Han Wu]

Tzu Chi Miri prepared a food pack for each recipient in addition to the study grant. [Photograph by Koo Han Wu]
 
 
A video about the plight of a Rohingya refugee was played during the ceremony. With Tzu Chi’s help, the family’s living conditions had changed for the better. [Photograph by Koo Han Wu]
 
A video about the plight of a Rohingya refugee moved many to tears. [Photograph by Choung Mou Hin]  

A video about the plight of a Rohingya refugee moved many to tears. [Photograph by Choung Mou Hin]