N levels: She hated maths, now eyes accountancy
With help from teachers, Sharmini catches up with peers
In Secondary 3, she skipped school for four months because she felt she would fail.
Her older siblings fought with her parents late at night, disrupting her focus.
Sharmini Suresh, 16, is a student at Crest Secondary School, the first specialised school for Normal (Technical) students.
She told The New Paper: "I thought there was no point in going to school.
"Some teachers came to my home to check on me, but I lied and pretended I wasn't feeling well. When they took me to a clinic, I knew I couldn't escape anymore."
When Sharmini returned to school, she realised she was way behind and was afraid she could not catch up with her peers.
"I asked my teachers for extra lessons for English and mathematics. They encouraged me to ask more questions in class, and I found that I could learn more easily from that," she said.
"I used to hate maths, but my maths teacher encouraged me to believe in myself. I ended up loving maths and I hope to be an accountant in the future."
"I thought there was no point in going to school." Sharmini Suresh on how she did not go to school for four months
After studying for five hours a day in the months leading up to N levels, Sharmini scored eight points, enough to get her into the Nitec programme in the Institute of Technical Education.
Mrs Usha Theva, 37, Sharmini's Tamil teacher, said: "When Sharmini came back to school, she lost many months of work. Her other teachers and I would often text her to see how she was doing, and she would confide in me about her problems.
"By the end of Sec 3, she managed to catch up with her classmates, and this year, her attendance was almost perfect. I am very proud of her results."
Foundation course prepped her well for poly
Miss Jolene Soh, 20, is among the pioneer batch of the Polytechnic Foundation Programme (PFP) at Republic Polytechnic (RP).
The PFP is a one-year programme that offers a practice-oriented curriculum taught by polytechnic lecturers to prepare Normal (Academic) students for entry into their polytechnic diploma courses.
If N-level students score 11 points and below, they qualify for the PFP.
If they score 19 points and below, they can be promoted to Secondary 5 Normal (Academic) or apply for the ITE Direct Entry Scheme to Polytechnic Programme.
Miss Soh, a third-year biotechnology student at RP's School of Applied Science told TNP: "I had the choice of going to the Express or Normal (Academic) stream in secondary school.
"I chose the Normal stream because the pace of learning was slower, which suited me better."
Her goal in Swiss Cottage Secondary School was to enter a polytechnic, so the PFP route was a natural choice for her.
She scored nine points for her N levels, qualifying her for PFP.
"Lessons during PFP were conducted in a similar manner to the actual diploma programme.We were given a problem statement at the start of each day, and we had to do research and solve the problem in groups of five. Then we presented it to the facilitator." Miss Jolene soh
"RP's biotechnology course offered problem-based learning, so it was more on self-learning, which I liked. PFP helped me to better prepare myself for year one," Miss Soh, who received the PFP scholarship, said.
During the foundation programme, she took subjects such as English, maths and science, alongside modules like computing and project management, which were more relevant to the diploma course.
She said: "Lessons during PFP were conducted in a similar manner to the actual diploma programme.
"We were given a problem statement at the start of each day, and we had to do research and solve the problem in groups of five.
"Then we presented it to the facilitator."