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Teens stop going to school to get jobs, help family survive

JOHOR BARU: Financial difficulties have led two students here to quit school and get jobs, in hopes that their younger siblings can have a brighter future.

A former secondary school student, who only wanted to be known as Daniel, 16, said he decided to leave school so that he could help his family by working at a petrol station here.

“My father passed away seven years ago, and since then, my mother is the sole breadwinner of my family. Things got really tough for us because of the pandemic as my mother’s stall is hardly making any sales.

“I used to work part-time to help my family but I have now decided to leave school completely so that I can earn more to help my mother,” he said.

He added that he also did not want his three younger siblings, aged between eight and 13, to suffer the same fate.

“I am worried that my siblings would make the same decision. I constantly remind them not to follow my lead in this manner,” said Daniel.

Another youth, who only wanted to be known as Haikal, 16, said he stopped attending classes earlier this year so that he could focus on helping his family, especially his younger siblings.

“I have lost my motivation to continue schooling as it is not easy to study at home where the Internet is weak and I have to share the laptop with my two other siblings.

“I missed a lot of classes because of this and it is difficult to catch up with the syllabus after missing so many classes. I have decided to drop out and focus on helping my sisters aged 10 and 12 with their studies,” he said.

Meanwhile, Yayasan Suria Johor Baru founder James Ho said many students decided to quit school because of financial problems, including not having access to the Internet.

“There are students who still do not have access to any gadget during the pandemic, making it difficult to catch up with their peers.

“Some also opted to find work instead because they wanted to help their family make ends meet,” he said, adding that the foundation had distributed at least 40 laptops and computers to B40 students this year.

Insan Kasih (I-Kasih) head Zuraini Tahir urged schools to do away with Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) fees, especially during this difficult time when many lost their jobs or faced significant pay cuts due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The PTA fees are an unnecessary burden for parents and should be stopped, at least temporarily, as people recover from the economic impact from the pandemic. It may also discourage parents who are already facing financial problems to send their children back to school,” he said.

In a written parliamentary reply, the Education Ministry said a total of 21,316 students dropped out of school during the pandemic from March last year to July this year. Those who left before they completed their schooling made up 0.22%.

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