PSLE: This young boy's the 'man of the family'
As S'pore celebrates its best PSLE results ever, we meet two pupils who beat the odds
For a boy aged just 12, Sri John Albert David has lived a hard life.
It is a life that has shaped him to be the focused, strong young man of the house.
His parents abandoned him to the care of his grandparents when he was six months old.
His grandfather has kidney failure, which was diagnosed about 13 years ago when he was hospitalised for a high fever.
Sri John was diagnosed with dyslexia when he was in Primary 5.
Yesterday, the Da Qiao Primary schoolboy had his breakthrough moment.
Sri John, who had failed all his subjects in Primary 4 and 5, scored two Grade 1s and two Grade 2s for his PSLE foundational, becoming the only one of eight pure foundational pupils in his class who can enter the Normal (Academic) stream in secondary school.
"My hard work has really paid off. I'm so happy I got a choice of Normal Academic and Normal Technical," said Sri John, who has not met his parents since they left.
He overcomes family ordeal and beats all odds to do well in this year's PSLE. TNP PHOTO: PSLE
The boy and his elder sister, an ITE student, live in a one-room HDB flat in Ang Mo Kio with their grandparents.
The family lives on Sri John's grandmother's salary as a dishwasher at Marina Bay Sands, and financial assistance from the government.
His grandmother, Madam C. Vijayalatchmi, 59, who is diabetic, earns $1,500 a month.
She said: "It's not enough, but we can't do anything about it."
She said that the $1,900 a month the family receives from the Community Development Council (CDC) helps a lot.
Her husband, Mr George John, 68, does not work because of his kidney failure caused by a history of drinking alcohol, which he said began when his daughter abandoned her first child with him.
"I was so stressed that I got addicted to drinking," said Mr John, who stopped drinking after his kidneys failed.
The couple said that they still do not know why their daughter left her children.
They appreciate how the boy has grown to take on responsibilities at home.
Three times a week after school, Sri John helps his sick grandfather by walking him home after his dialysis treatments at the Pei Hwa Foundation-NKF Dialysis Centre in Ang Mo Kio.
His grandfather added that Sri John, who sometimes goes to sleep with him, will wake up no matter how late it is to make a sweet drink whenever the older man starts trembling from low blood sugar.
"I call him my right hand man. Anything I tell him to do, he will do it," said Mr John.
However, Mr John regretted scolding Sri John when he was growing up and calling his grandson "lazy" whenever he did not do his homework.
Madam Vijayalatchmi said: "He would say that he doesn't know how to do the homework and cry. We used to get very angry."
The turning point came only in March, when Sri John's Primary 6 form teacher, Mrs Chitra Devi Guna, alerted the family to the severity of the boy's dyslexia, a learning difficulty that affects a person's skills in reading and spelling.
Mrs Guna, 44, convinced the reluctant grandparents to allow him to drop to the foundational stream.
With the help of specialised teaching, Sri John's studies improved dramatically and he started to grow in confidence.
Sri John, who previously spent his afternoons watching television, would meet his group of friends at a nearby resident's corner for revision and would ask Mrs Guna for extra homework.
The teacher told TNP: "The students see him as a role model. He has brought so much positiveness in this class."
Sri John also had tuition for all of his subjects and went to the Dyslexia Association of Singapore (DSA) regularly because of his condition.
"He's the young man of the family," said Mr John.
"He's bloomed already when before he was just a bud."