SPM dropouts need urgent help – MOHAN

Mohan Singh Rendhawa | Malaysia | Asia Samachar | 26 Mar 2015 


Our Sikh youth who drop out from the school system after SPM need urgent help from our community leaders. They do not have any government jobs to go to. The doors of the police force are only half open and not many youth want to join the Armed Forces. Very few new  Sikhs are recruited into the government service with SPM [Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia, a national examination at year 11] qualifications

During the early 1950 and 1960’s there were lots of government jobs available to Sikhs. A young man on passing the Malaysian Certificate of Examinations (MCE) with grade 2 could join the government service, Police Force  or the Armed Forces. All these opportunities  are either not there or the quota for Sikhs  in these organisations is so small that not many Sikhs can be absorbed into such occupations. Our  Sikh youth have to be trained to be self employed. The only way to be self employed is to provide a service. To provide a service an individual needs skills.  To do this there must be a place to learn.

The Sikh community does not have any skill training center to call their own. What we have to  our advantage is that we have many Sikh Gurudwara’s located at strategic locations. These are  not fully utilised for the whole week. There are some Gurdwara’s in small towns that are not being used at all due to out-migration. These facilities could be used as centers to introduce  skill training to these youth so that they can get motivated to master a skill.

The Gurdwara does not have to train these youth to any high level of skill proficiency. What the Gurdwara need to do is work with other Sikh and non-Sikh non-government organisations (NGOs) to promote a few vital skill to the youth and sell them the potential of becoming their own boss in the future.

By giving a youth a taste of the skill and helping them to buy the concept we can motivate them to take up the skill as their future job.  Once the youth get committed they could be channeled to government run community colleges that will provide the training at a very low fee. Currently the government has opened more than 20 community colleges in almost all states. Our youth should take advantage of such facilities provided by the government. We have to work together as 1 team to encourage them to use this facility and promote skill development.

When I was growing up in Penang, the Wadda Gurdwara was in a way a center of learning. We had a lady whom we called sister – Bhenji in Punjabi – so much so we all forgot her real name. This wonderful lady spent 25 years from 1950 to 1975  conducting sewing classes in the afternoon  for Punjabi,  Tamil and Muslim ladies who would come to the Wadda Gurdwara Penang to learn how to design, cut and sew Punjabi dresses. I remember they used to use recycled newspapers for their cutting exercises.

Some  of the ladies who studied here were single mothers or had husbands who were either opium  addicts or drunk most of the time. The training at the Wadda Gurdwara provided these ladies  a means of earning an honest living and helped them to not only bring up their kids but also educate them. The credit should go to this Bhenji and the committee of the Gurdwara.  The committee of that time was the late Mr Hari Singh, a court interpreter, and his visionary friends. They  felt that this was the only way a house wife could earn a decent income to prevent her from stretching out her had to seek help form others.

Recently I had a chance to meet up with this wonderful lady and managed to find out her real name. She’s Achint Kaur d/o Bisan Singh, now living in Ipoh, Perak.

“I was paid RM 50 per month by the Gurdwara committee and I had between 7 to 15 students each time,” she said.  “I was doing this as a job with full dedication and love  as I knew many of these young ladies of that time would be able to use the skills to earn some money for their families.”

Today, if help does not reach our SPM drop out youth in time, we may loose this group to economic conversion to other religions.  There are other religious groups  who have skill development and job placement programs for such individuals but they also  have  a hidden agenda, you have to become a member of that community by converting  before help is available.

This problem is visible at the Gurdwara and Sikh NGO level. Due to the lack of any formal strategic planning meeting among Gurdwara committees and our many NGOs, no coordinated action can be taken on a national level to help our youth who drop out of the school system.

There is a need to organise an annual Strategic Planning Samelan  to discuss our community issues and threats facing the community and to  develop goals to address these issues in a coordinated manner. We could all meet up at  Kuala Kubu Bharu (KKB), Selangor, where we have facilities for such kind of activities . Sikh Naujawan Sabha Malaysia (SNSM) and other senior  Sikh leaders should help organise such a gathering on an annual basis, just like our annual Samelan for youth. We need to come together as a community to discuss and develop  a 5-year plan of action and review the progress of this  plan on an annual basis. I am ready to help as facilitator to start the first Strategic Planning Camp going.

Just like Madam Achint Kaur from my childhood days, we could start basic  sewing classes, basic vegetarian cooking classes, basic  photography and  computer classes in our Gurdwaras and progress these kids to community colleges to master the skills.

Unlike the Malay community in Malaysia, we do not have MARA College to take on these young Sikhs. We have to think  out of the box on how we can help them make a good start in life. We need a cooperative effort.

To start the ball rolling we first have to have a Strategic Planning meeting with all the Sikh NGOs and Gurdwara committees.. If we continue doing what we have been doing all these years, we will see more of our youth  vulnerable to economic conversion. I am looking for likeminded individuals who like to help move this idea forward.



Lt-Kol (Rtd) Mohan Singh Rendhawa, a retired officer from the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF), currently provides training in transformational leadership. He has also been active in Sikh activities in Malaysia. He can be contacted at +60178889512 , email: rendhawa88@hotmail.com. Do drop me a line if you like to join me to move this idea forward . 


[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]



40 students start one-year pilot project in Perak (Asia Samachar, 3 Mar 2015)

UM Sikhs moulding young minds in Ipoh (Asia Samachar, 4 Mar 2015)

Sri Dasmesh students score well in SPM (Asia Samachar, 5 Mar 2015)

Students share their winning secrets (Asia Samachar, 17 Mar 2015)



  1. Gurfateh
    This post echoed , what we in Perak discovered in 2006. Upso foundation has been proven right in its statistics , that it presented the correct factual information on Sikhs and it’s Youth issues.
    This is a slap on the faces of our so called organisations and detractors who completely did not want to acknowledge these grievances existed ,except to promote their own Sikhs ideology for their own political motives to gain an advantage to feed their own desires .
    In several of the discussions held in 2006 , with 8 organisations than, we laid bare the blueprint of the community , complete with the data and researched statistics . We provided a plethora of routes on how we can move forward and secure the future for our community . When we started our programs, we were expected to fail ,and till this day these so called representatives continue to engage and frustrate every effort to assist the community . From 8 organisations representing the community in 2006 , we have 26 Sikh organisations in Perak State today . That will summarise our tragic situation.
    By our own initiatives and working with the YSS , Dato Dr Denison Jsyasooria and his team , UPSO ( F ) managed to assist more than 100 students , from poor homes ,single mother families , get into trades certification courses , nursing institutes , Diploma courses etc . We also assisted students from other states to gain admission for trade schools etc in courses , like welding , refrigeration ,domestic wiring, auto mechanic ,machining ,mechatronics , free of cost . The Perak state govt acknowledging the issues at hand , provided the cost and place including stipends or pocket money where necessary . These included nursing education both male and female .
    Besides those mentioned , 12 students from poor and single mothers graduated as medical doctors ,engineers , lawyers,pharmacists ,dentists , pilot , teachers etc . They, today form the backbone of the Upso foundation Sikheraag alumuni group . Students currently pursuing courses in Uni or colleges assisted by UPSO F are in the group . Some of them are already facilitating together with Uni Malaya Alumuni for the 40 odd kids that attended the first academic and holistic development seminar .
    These will be a core group of persons , we together feel, will assist the development of our youth in the state on this pilot scheme of mentoring the weaker students aswell as their distressed and overburden families .
    We have regular career guidance seminars in Perak every year.
    For your information , we used to provide funds to students for tuition classes .However , we found that student enrolment and results were poor . God sent us in the form of Dr Gurcharan Singh and Sardar Sukhdev Singh to look at what we were doing. The Sikh Academic and Holistic Development seminar thus came to fruition. We decided to get a group of students From single mothers and the impoverished group and bring them together to understand how weak our students are academically and morally .
    We were not surprised at our weakness.
    With the aid of the UM Sikh Alumuni , we now try to understand the youth not only on singular individual basis , but also their background and families . We visit their homes for family bonding as this is the way forward .
    With this diagnostic approach of our students we hope to segregate the good , the moderate and weak .
    We believe we now have a good direction to help these youths and prepare those in lower forms early to mitigate their weakness in subjects. We have agreed for this pilot project to run for a year from Feb 2015 to Dec 2015 . We would like the moderates and weak students to atleast pass the SPM so that they could avail of some trade cert courses or move on to SKM 1 and 2 .
    UPSO Foundation is currently funding this study and it has agreed to see the students thru their careers . The pilot group is from ages 13 to 18 .
    We know that this program is a magnanimous effort and we will be requiring assistance both financially and in form of volunteer support.
    We are equally committed to the challenges ahead .
    I have given you a picture of what we have done , what we are doing and what we can do for the future . If anyone of you fit into anyone of these groups ,we would like you to share your thots and help us through . We just cannot ask parents to send their children to trade schools. From our experience we have to go down on our knees to plead with them and literally hold them by their hands to show them the direction . This is our state of affairs today .
    We are a community at loss . Unless we take hold if these bulls by the horns we are going to be languishing in the bottom 40% of poverty bracket
    Dheer Singh


    40 students start one-year pilot project in Perak (Asia Samachar, 3 Mar 2014)

    UM Sikhs moulding young minds in Ipoh (Asia Samachar, 4 Mar 2014)

  2. Thank you brother ji.
    There is a family in particular who got thre sons of the age 14,16 18 years.The family own a shop house and had paid fifty percent of the amount. The seller was a local guy who started to torment this Sikh family because they had difficulty paying the balance of USD15,000. in the year 2010. The wife came to our Gurdwara in tears begging in distress.She was saying that local hooligans were tormenting them at wee hours demanding money.She was pleading for financial assistance,but nobody listened or giving a helping hand Listening to her distress,we decided to appeal to the sadhsanggat to volunteer plus the Gurdwara manage to lend her the ammount and save her shop-house.The sadh-sanggat got together came to the rescue.Two years later this family paid everyone who help and now one of the regulat sewadars of the Gurdwara.Three of the sons are good tabl players and the parents help in the preparing and buying of the langgar every week.
    Several other chil poor family childrens school fees are also taken care by the gurdwara.The whole sadhsanggat are also the committee and runs the gurdwara “seva”in unison.

  3. Our Gurdwara Sahib Sadh-sanggat usually get together and help out if any our Sikh familiea need help in education,finance loan,or hospital bills.
    In 2010 a member had problems in financing his house loan and sought the sadh-sanggat help.We got together and help him out and then he paid by installment dicertly to every member that lent him the money.Now this guy three children plays the table (jor0 and he and his wife is every week helping in the langgar preparation.This type of similar help we had given to some others.Time to Rehras …
    to be continued

  4. Balwant Singh Ji Well done for the South Jakarta Sikh community. I salute the leaders who have such a big vision. Money used is money providing benefit. Money kept in the Bank is unused money with no benefit to any one. The bank interest gained is less than the decline in the real value of money after a few years.

    Is is possible for you and your friends to post some case studies that is real stories of youth who have benefited from this program. I feel this will help open the eyes of other Gurdwara Committee Members.

    Keep up the good work and congratulations to Jakarta South Gurdwara Sahib

  5. Its a noble idea to help our youth in the best way.If I may suggests please think of them starting business,entrepreneurship. We in Indonesia from south Jakarta Gurdwara Sahib recommend them to other Indian businesses and in a few nyears,usually they quit and start their own small business.We also provide them soft loan and they pay us after a few years.Our Gurdwara do not keep our funds in the bank but instead use them to bring up our needy .