SINGAPORE - Quality assurance and accreditation executive Nurshahiddin Abdul Rasid, 30, failed mathematics at the O levels when he was a teenager and could not get into a junior college or polytechnic.
It was a wake-up call that pushed him to study hard at a private school, and he made it into the Singapore Management University, where he eventually earned a Master of Science in Management.
After graduating in 2020, he signed up as a volunteer with Malay/Muslim self-help group Mendaki to tutor pupils under its Primary School Leaving Examination Maths Coaching Programme. He did not want children who did not like studying to have the same regrets that he did.
On Saturday (Feb 26), Mr Nurshahiddin was among 126 volunteers who were recognised by Mendaki for their contributions to the Malay/Muslim community in the past three years.
Speaking at the volunteer appreciation ceremony at Village Hotel Katong, Mr Edwin Tong, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth and Second Minister for Law, said that Mendaki is expanding its youth mentoring programme this year to 11 M³@Towns, and plans to recruit 500 more volunteers to mentor an additional 1,000 young people.
The M³ initiative is a tie-up between the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore, Mendaki and the People’s Association Malay Activity Executive Committees Council.
The M³@Towns programme provides a platform for volunteers and professionals to work together to serve the needs of residents.
The 10 constituencies currently in the programme include Bedok, Jurong, Geylang Serai and Jalan Besar.
From 2020 to 2021, Mendaki saw a 40 per cent increase in the number of people signing up to become volunteers, with more than 2,700 registering.
Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, the number of volunteers deployed by Mendaki last year grew by 63 per cent from that in 2020, helping more than 5,000 beneficiaries, Mendaki said.
In his speech, Mr Tong noted a 40 per cent increase in the last 10 years in the number of recipients of the Anugerah Mendaki award, which is given to students who are among the top 10 per cent scorers in national examinations each year.
Last year, close to 500 students received the award.
The number of recipients of the Anugerah Cemerlang, or excellence award, given to graduates with first-class honours degrees, rose almost 12-fold – to 71 graduates last year from just six in 2011.
Other Mendaki programmes include the Mendaki Tuition Scheme, which provides affordable tuition to Muslim students, and the KelasMateMatika@CC programme, which guides parents of pre-schoolers to teach the children basic numeracy concepts.
Commending the award recipients on Saturday, Mr Tong said: “Your efforts will, indeed, encourage many others to volunteer, step forward, lend a helping hand and give back to the community.
“Together, we can all play a part to build a more caring and inclusive Singapore. One that we will leave behind for our children and their children, one that which is gracious, cares for all and makes sure that no one gets left behind.”