$10 million donated to NUS for Teach SG community mentorship programme

Ho Bee Land Limited's founder and executive chairman Chua Thian Poh (fourth from left), unveils the Ho Bee Auditorium. ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

SINGAPORE - About 1,240 primary and secondary school students from low-income families will get more support in tutoring and mentorship from National University of Singapore (NUS) students following a $10 million donation.

Teach Singapore (Teach SG), a community programme where more than 700 NUS student mentors work with community partners to provide tutoring and mentoring, was officially launched at the University Cultural Centre on Saturday (April 16).

The donation came from real estate company Ho Bee Land.

One of the mentors is second-year medical student Celest Chiam, 21, who said: "I recognise that we were extremely privileged and we were able to receive many opportunities to attend enrichment classes and pursue our passions when we were younger. My group wanted to pay it forward through this project."

One of her mentees is Secondary 3 student Isabella Aw, who said she likes having someone she can relate to and has started taking her studies seriously.

"She motivated me to come to the mentoring sessions and pursue my dream to become a psychiatrist," said Isabella, 15.

The Teach SG programme was piloted by NUS in January last year.

Volunteers are trained to approach mentees with empathy and are given instructional materials, activities and games, as well as budgeting guides and survey templates, for the mentoring sessions, which last at least 12 weeks.

Each mentor can take on two mentees, or two mentors can take on a group of three mentees.

About 700 NUS students have been recruited and they work with 76 community partners, including primary and secondary schools and social service agencies.

Founder and executive chairman of Ho Bee Land, Dr Chua Thian Poh, speaking at the launch of Teach Singapore. ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

NUS president Tan Eng Chye noted that coaching and mentoring children from less privileged families is particularly important amid the Covid-19 pandemic, where the acceleration of home-based learning has brought challenges to students who do not have a conducive learning environment at home.

"As academically able individuals who have benefited richly from the Singapore education system, NUS students can play our part in helping other students," he said.

On Saturday, about 70 student mentor team leaders were awarded certificates and a $10 million cheque was presented to NUS by Ho Bee Land founder and executive chairman Chua Thian Poh.

Dr Chua Thian Poh (left) presenting the $10 million cheque to Education Chan Chun Sing (centre) and NUS president Tan Eng Chye. ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

Minister for Education Chan Chun Sing, who was the guest of honour of the event, said that he hopes one day every undergraduate in Singapore will mentor a child from a disadvantaged family and be a positive role model to help the person navigate his or her formative years into adulthood.

"This mentoring journey by all our undergraduates would last for months or even years, (and) they would be giving back to the society and learning the importance of not leaving those who are less privileged behind," he said.

Mr Chan added: "Success must be when our undergraduates can take care of not only themselves and their families, but when they have that innate desire to want to do more and to do good for our society."

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