Students eager to teach with LearnSG Seed Fund

(From left) Ms Chua Shi Qian, head of Hong Kah Secondary's special projects department, and Secondary 3 students Kang Taehyeoh, Ethan Lim and Wilson Lim are hoping the school can get funding so they can teach primary school pupils in the Jurong West
(From left) Ms Chua Shi Qian, head of Hong Kah Secondary's special projects department, and Secondary 3 students Kang Taehyeoh, Ethan Lim and Wilson Lim are hoping the school can get funding so they can teach primary school pupils in the Jurong West area about technology.PHOTO: LIM YONG TECK FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

For Secondary 3 students Kang Taehyeoh, Ethan Lim and Wilson Lim, electronics classes are a golden opportunity to tinker with circuits and sensors.

And the 14-year-olds may soon make the leap from being taught to being teachers themselves, as their school, Hong Kah Secondary, looks to tap a new $3 million fund to promote lifelong learning.

Applications for the LearnSG Seed Fund opened barely two weeks ago, but more than 30 parties - including schools, interest groups, even a community hospital - have already expressed interest.

The fund, run by the Lifelong Learning Council (LLC) with the support of the Singapore Workforce Development Agency, aims to encourage initiatives to boost lifelong learning in the community.

Hong Kah hopes to get $15,000 to $20,000 to fund an effort by 70 or so students from its applied learning programme in electronics to teach primary school pupils in the Jurong West area about technology.

Said its special projects department head, Ms Chua Shi Qian, 31: "If our students can extend their knowledge to the community, it would make their learning even more meaningful. We're hoping for a huge multiplier effect."

Ethan is excited about teaching kids to program Lego robots, and Taehyeoh hopes to give them a taste of what it is like to fly a drone. And Wilson said: "We want to teach them the importance of electronics in our everyday lives. I really like learning about electronics, and I hope they will too."

LLC chairman Tan Kay Yong said: "The LearnSG Seed Fund is about nurturing and growing the learning culture in our community and embracing lifelong learning as a habit. No learning idea is too small or too big to undertake."

Groups can apply for funding at www.learnnow.sg for small-scale and large-scale projects, at up to 90 per cent of the qualifying costs or up to $50,000, whichever is lower.

Malay-Muslim self-help group Yayasan Mendaki is gunning for $50,000, with which it hopes to expand the outreach and duration of its annual learning festival by at least 50 per cent. It is also hoping for a further $30,000 to fund heartland activities like coding camps for its low-income beneficiaries.

Mendaki chief executive Tuminah Sapawi said: "There are many within our community who are not fortunate enough to be able to experience the latest technology or learning tools... We realise the need for us to bring these activities and knowledge to the less fortunate so that they will not be left behind."

A session for the public to brainstorm ideas on how to use the fund will be held on Feb 19 at The Future of Us Exhibition.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 08, 2016, with the headline 'Students eager to teach with LearnSG Seed Fund'. Print Edition | Subscribe