KUALA LUMPUR: An MIC effort to help academically-weak and problematic Indian secondary students has paid off.
The MIC-run Yayasan Strategic Social's family development unit head K.A. Gunah (picture) said the party's Plus-8 programme had proven to be a resounding success by helping 5,100 students in 74 secondary schools.
He said thanks to the year-long programme which ended in July, these students had a better future now and did not need to go the way of some other children from the community who could not escape the clutches of social ills such as crime.
He said the key to the programme's success was in its ability to bring children and parents together to work as a family unit and motivate the children to improve themselves.
"Besides ironing out students' problems, which were mainly centred around poor parent-child relationships, the programme has put in place an effective network for the students, their teachers and YSS."
Funded by the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry and supported by the Education Ministry, the programme featured workshops on character building, human values and uncovering of skills for students.
"We then hold two workshops for parents on the subject of parent-child interaction and relationships and the need for self-discipline and sacrifice. The programme ends with a two-day, one-night camp for the students and their parents.
"We are now keying in the student data and feedback on the programme to prepare a report for the two ministries. With this done, we hope to launch the second round of Plus-8 programmes."
Gunah, who is the coordinator for the programme in Johor and Malacca, said YSS ran them jointly with Indian-based NGOs.
YSS got the help of teachers to identify target groups of 50 students in schools in eight states to attend a total of 812 Plus-8 programmes.
He said the programme was the brainchild of party president Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu, who felt that rising social ills among Indian youth had to be nipped in the bud by solving the problem of delinquency.
During the programme, Gunah said he came across sad cases of how students had got into trouble because of parental neglect.
"A boy who had been punished 22 times in 10 months for disciplinary problems, including bringing pornographic VCDs to school, told us his father had left the family.
"His mother was away at work until late at night and he had to fend for himself, including cooking and washing his own clothes."
He said the girls were often led astray by youths or men outside the school environment.
"Most of them point to nagging mothers and absent fathers and the fact that there was no one to listen to them."