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Asyraf Chumino on how he got into a polytechnic without a PSLE cert


Asyraf’s father passed away when he was two, leaving his mother in depression. When he was in Primary 4, his mother’s health declined and he dropped out of school to look after her.
“My brother was taking his PSLE and my sister had just started secondary school. So I thought being the youngest with the closest relationship with my mother, I decided to stop school,” he said. My mother was actually shocked but she was not well and could not do much. I told her I would not give up on education, but I just needed to make sure her needs were taken care of.”

While his friends and relatives went to school and sat the PSLE, Asyraf remained at home and took over every household chore for the family, from cooking to laundry.

“When my friends were taking the exam, I felt left out,” he said. “I decided to go back to school because education is important, and with education ultimately I can help my family.”
When his mother recovered, both of them explored ways to get Asyraf back to school. After spending two years attending a Mendaki Maths Programme, Asyraf sat for an entrance test for NorthLight School under the recommendation of a mentor.

“I’m really thankful to the principal who gave me a chance and accepted me,” said Asyraf. “Even though there are people who say that Northlight School is the end of the journey, I don’t see it that way. I think it’s given me another chance to succeed in life.”

Asyraf worked hard at Northlight School and became one of the 30 to 40 per cent of the cohort that made it into the ITE. He struggled to keep up with former ‘N’ Level students while juggling a night job to support the family. Eventually, he made it into Singapore Polytechnic and Asyraf is today pursuing a diploma in Hotel and Leisure Facility Management.

He told us: “In life, it is you against yourself. It is you versus you. Every person has their own problems but after you overcome them you become strong and have that driving force within you. So I think using that driving force to actually push you towards your goal is important.”

Channel NewsAsia