MALAYSIA: Ipoh-born Harveer Singh is a slow learner. He lives with his Puar (aunty) Nirmal Kaur after being abandoned by his parents.
Nirmal herself is a single mother, whose husband died some 13 years ago. “I’m uneducated. Ensuring he gets proper help is tough,” she says.
Under normal circumstances, educating Harveer is already a task. Throw in poverty, lack of guidance and a chaotic home enviroment, it makes studying even more a challenge.
Help is now on the way. Harveer and Nirmal were participants of a pilot project intended to assist Sikh youth who are not doing well in their studies or the bright students who are dragged down by poverty.
The one-year pilot project is spearheaded by the Ipoh-based UPSO Foundation. The core expertise comes from an expert group made up of the University of Malaya (UM) Sikh educationists and alumni.
The first session for the project took place at a hotel in Ipoh, Perak, on Saturday (28 Feb). The 40 students, accompanied by key family members, and the expert group, went through a number of programmes.
“We are very concerned with the deteriorating state of the education of our youth. This programme is a direct response to that concern,” Dheer Singh, one of the key organisers, tells Asia Samachar.
“Most of these youth are from the poorer segment of the community. We are looking at providing sustained, long-term assistance.”
UPSO is short for Union of Perak Sikh Organisations. The other supporting organisations in the project are Sikh Single Mothers Association Ipoh (SIKHMAI), Guru Kalgidhar Diwan Malaysia (GKDM) and Sikh Naujawan Sabha Malaysia (Perak).
This seminar was directed towards the impoverished, single parent and socially challenged Sikh youth from ages 13 to 18.
It aims to promote holistic growth and development primarily among the underachieving youth in general and the academically sound but under privileged Sikh youth, who hail from low income groups of the community, according to a brief provided by the organisers.
In essence, the programme is the coming together of two key parties. UPSO Foundation and its partners were in the midst of planning for the programme.
At the same time, the UM Sikh educationists and alumni were looking at doing something for the community. It was a good marriage.
“Many of them come from hard backgrounds. Motivating them to stay in school is an issue,” Shalinder Kaur Dhillon, a member of the expert group, tells Asia Samachar half-way through the programme.
By then, she and her team members had already got to know each other. The lunch break was noisy, with participants and organisers exchanging notes and cracking jokes.
The first batch of the expert group also comprised of Dr Gurcharan Singh, Dr Sheena Kaur, Sukhdave Singh, Dr Surinderpal Kaur, Jagdish Kaur, Mukhtiar Kaur and Hasmukh Singh. – ASIA SAMACHAR (3 March 2015)
[ASIA SAMACHAR is an online newspaper for Sikhs in Southeast Asia and surrounding countries. We have a Facebook page, do give it a LIKE! Visit our website: www.asiasamachar.com]
UM Sikhs moulding young minds in Ipoh (Asia Samachar, 4 Mar 2015)
40 students start one-year pilot project in Perak (Asia Samachar, 3 Mar 2015)