RI to launch mentoring programme in 2023 to help primary school pupils

DPM Heng Swee Keat at Raffles Institution's 199th Founder's Day event on July 23, 2022. ST PHOTO: KHALID BABA

SINGAPORE - Raffles Institution (RI) will launch a mentoring programme in 2023 in which RI students will provide academic tutoring to Primary 4 to 6 pupils who are receiving financial assistance from their primary schools, RI principal Frederick Yeo announced on Saturday (July 23).

The announcement was made during the 199th Founder's Day at the secondary school's Albert Hong Hall in front of about 850 attendees, including students from Year 1 to 6, alumni, staff and board members.

The programme will start off in 2023 with Primary 4 pupils. It will then be extended to include Primary 5 and 6 pupils in 2024 and 2025.

RI will be committing resources and time to the mentoring programme for at least 10 years.

"We must ensure that highly capable students from less well-to-do families are not deterred from joining RI. This is a gap that we must continue to bridge consciously," Mr Yeo said.

Primary schools participating in the mentoring programme are Ang Mo Kio Primary, Bendemeer Primary, Cedar Primary, Gan Eng Seng Primary, Jing Shan Primary, Mayflower Primary, New Town Primary, Teck Ghee Primary, Townsville Primary and Xinghua Primary.

The primary schools were chosen as they are near RI, which makes travelling easier as most of the mentoring activities will be held in the primary schools.

Dean of student development for Year 1 to 4 Melissa Lim Ai Lin, 47, said: “Through this programme, we hope our students will be able to contribute back to society, by paying forward to primary school pupils what they themselves have received and benefited from society."

She added: "Our focus is on our student mentors and mentees building relationships with each other. We hope that both mentors and mentees will grow and learn in the process, have stronger sense of purpose and aspiration, and pick up important life skills.”

Participating primary schools will choose which pupils will receive mentoring. By 2025, the institution expects to help about 200 Primary 4 to 6 pupils from the 10 primary schools.

Ms Lim said the school wants to have more mentors than pupils in case there are sessions some mentors cannot attend due to other commitments. Ideally there would be between two and three mentors per pupil, she added.

The mentoring sessions will be planned by the institution's Interact Club, which is a community service club, and approved by the primary school's teachers.

"Only students with good conduct will be chosen to be mentors. This means they cannot have been called out for poor behaviour, come to school late or miss deadlines. If they cannot manage their own tasks and time well, they will not be good role models for the primary school pupils," said Ms Lim.

Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat, who was guest of honour at the event, recounted his days as a Rafflesian: "I still remember the sights and sounds of the old campus. Most of all, I remember the easy camaraderie among my classmates, who came from a diverse range of backgrounds and cultures."

He added: "The world that awaits our youth has many challenges, with the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war and US-China contestation. This is reminiscent of the 1970s, when I was still in RI. The Cold War was in full swing but my generation did not lose hope." 

At Saturday's event, Mr Heng also launched the RI200 microsite, a website where alumni can share memories of their schooling days and view upcoming RI events.

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