PETALING JAYA: Indonesian Sarmini Muhyadi is undoubtedly a lucky maid.
Unlike your typical overworked foreign maid, she does not have to cook or wash her employer’s cars.
Her responsibilities are to clean the house and be around when her employer’s children return from school.
And, that’s not all. The best part is her employer has enrolled her in a four-year diploma course in management at a local university. He is footing part of the fees.
So, thanks to her amazing employer, Sarmini is fulfilling her goals of coming to Malaysia earlier than expected — work and save enough money to pay for a degree course back home.
Speaking in Bahasa Indonesia and English during a recent interview, Sarmini said her duties as a maid and student did not pose a problem as her distance-learning course did not involve daily classes.
"Since early last month, my employer has sent and picked me up from Shah Alam for my fortnightly classes.
"It is all about time management. There are lots of assignments but I can cope," she said.
Tan, 52, who played down his contributions, said paying part of Sarmini’s fees could be considered as giving her a "partial scholarship".
The father of four said Sarmini had wanted to go home to further her studies after working here for three years.
"But I was pretty sure the savings she had would not help her through.
"Moreover, she’s from a small town and probably has to go to Jakarta to further her studies," said the head of academic affairs at the Malaysian Institute of Arts.
Tan said he made enquiries and found a course offered by a university where she could sign up six months later.
"It was tedious because they said my maid was the first foreign student they had ever accepted," said Tan.
Sarmini is taking two subjects this semester — Learning Skills for Open and Distance Learners and English for Written Communication.
The subjects, taught in English, may sound like a tall order but she is taking it in her stride.
"She came to us not knowing a single word of English but over the years, she picked up the language," said Tan.
Tan’s wife, Wee Phooi Kuan, 43, said, "Every night, she would read the children’s books and check the dictionary.
"My children converse in English with her, which also helped polish her language."
The couple’s eldest daughter, Tan Yin Yi, 15, has proven a big help to Sarmini.
Among other things, the SM Bandar Utama 3 student has shown Sarmini how to search for information on the Internet and helped to borrow books from the public library.
"She (Sarmini) is a quick learner. She’s also very responsible and patient," said Yin Yi