by Bryna Sim
HER son's teacher had allegedly singled him out for ridicule in front of his classmates.
She also tore up his homework and made him redo it during recess, forcing him to miss his break.
Mrs Lim (not her real name) decided to act, and is now glad she did so.
She and her husband spoke to the primary school's principal, the vice-principal and the teacher, and worked through their issues.
'They were very sincere, and the teacher apologised to me,' said Mrs Lim.
We are not using real names to protect the boy's identity.
Mrs Lim, 41, called The New Paper after she read our 'pesky mum' report on 17 Jul.
She had wondered: Was she being a pesky mum too?
Her son, Nick, 8, said he was 'scared' to return to his school in the south of Singapore at the end of the June holidays.
'I thought he was just coming up with excuses,' said the secretary.
But she felt something was amiss when her child returned from school on 1 Jul in high spirits.
The reason? His form teacher, Ms Goh, was absent from school.
'My son told me that they watched movies for four to five periods and had no lessons,' said Mrs Lim.
She debated whether to raise the matter with the school, even though it was not the first time that her son's teachers were absent.
Before the June holidays, Mrs Lim recalled several instances when Nick's previous form teacher and Chinese language teacher were allegedly absent from school.
Displeased with what she thought was frequent absenteeism and believing that it would affect her child's learning, Mrs Lim wrote to the principal on 2 Jul.
According to her, the principal called her on 3 Jul and acknowledged her e-mail.
Meanwhile, Mrs Lim decided to have a word with her son about his performance in school. It was then that she realised that Nick's fears towards school stemmed from Ms Goh's treatment of him.
According to Nick, Ms Goh often picked on him. On one occasion, when she wanted to teach sentence construction with the word 'therefore', she used Nick in her example.
Said Mrs Lim: 'Ms Goh told the class that 'Nick failed all his SA subjects, therefore he cannot go up to Primary 3'.'
'How can she humiliate my son like that?'
Fearing for her son's self-esteem, Mrs Lim considered writing to the school again.
On 7 Jul, Ms Goh tore off a page of her son's homework and made him redo it alone in the canteen during his recess break.
Having missed his break, Nick was only allowed to stand outside the classroom to have a sandwich later.
'As a mother, I felt sorry for my child. Why should he be deprived of his break?' said Mrs Lim.
On 8 Jul, she sent her second e-mail to the school, asking for an explanation.
She claims her e-mail went unanswered.
On 9 Jul, Ms Goh called up Mrs Lim to inform her that classes for her son would be cancelled the next day as a classmate had come down with Influenza A(H1N1).
Mrs Lim decided to confront Ms Goh about the sentence-construction and homework-tearing incidents.
'Ms Goh denied the former and claimed that she tore out my son's work because he had made her 'pek chek' (irritated),' she said.
Ms Goh had apparently told Nick three times to redo his work, but he was unable to do so because he did not understand what was required of him.
Mrs Lim was dissatisfied with Ms Goh's response and her handling of the situation.
'If you cannot be patient and explain to my son how he is to redo his work, why be a teacher?' she said.
Mrs Lim said that she continued to wait for the school's response, but it did not come.
She also monitored Ms Goh's absenteeism through her son.
She said: 'Each time I ask my son why Ms Goh did not turn up, he tells me that it's because she's on MC. I'm worried because my son is missing out on so many days of class.'
When contacted by The New Paper, the school said Ms Goh had been given five days of medical leave from 20 to 24 Jul for coming down with an influenza-like illness.
As for her classroom language and teaching, the school said Ms Goh might have used inappropriate words.
It added that she has since received counselling from the principal.
The school also clarified that Nick's recess deprivation was a one-off incident as teachers usually do not keep students back during recess, except when they have to help students with their work.
It added that it looked forward to working closely with the parents for Nick's continuing education.
Mrs Lim and her husband finally met the principal, vice-principal and Ms Goh yesterday and worked things out.
This article was first published in The New Paper.