News article from http://www.tnp.sg/news/singapore/boy-profound-hearing-loss-gets-early-admission-poly-course

(Date: 15 Jan 2018)

Boy with profound hearing loss gets early admission into poly course

NP_20180115_SARESULT15-D2R_1692462

As if having profound hearing loss was not bad enough, school bullies threatened to rip out his hearing aid.

But Muhammad Nihal Mohamed Abul Kassim, 16, persevered, grew in confidence and took his O-level exams last year.

Not only has he secured a place in a polytechnic, he was recognised by his school, Bukit Merah Secondary, for his resilience.

The O-level results for 2017, released last Friday, shows 83.4 per cent getting at least five passes, slightly lower than the 84.3 per cent in 2016.

The Ministry of Education said that 99.9 per cent of the 29,100 school candidates and 90.8 per cent of the 1,570 private candidates were awarded certificates.

Nihal, who has had hearing loss in both ears since a young age, scored 24 points for five subjects. He was one of eight students in his school’s cohort to receive the Resilient Achievers award.

He started in Canossian School, a special education institution for those with hearing difficulties, before moving to a mainstream secondary school.

“It was scary initially,” Nihal said. “Sometimes students would tease me and even bully me for being different. They also kept asking me about my hearing aid.”

Some students tried to rip apart his hearing device, he said.

“But I had close friends who stood up for me and helped explain my condition to others,” he said.

The teachers also tailored their teaching methods to Nihal’s needs.

One of them, Ms Faith Ng, said they ensured Nihal sat in front, and a buddy would take notes for him if his hearing aid malfunctioned.

She said: “I realised there were times he couldn’t hear but he didn’t speak up about it. Now he has grown so much in confidence, he has become someone others can rely on as well.”

Nihal has been accepted into Singapore Polytechnic’s landscape architecture course through early admission.

His passion is working with his hands and designing tools.

Looking back on his school journey, Nihal said: “I want to tell students who have certain needs like me not to worry. We may be differently abled, but there is help along the way from teachers and friends alike.”