This 20-year-old started a free online tutoring service for underprivileged students

Quek Hui Ying.
PHOTO: Her World Online

I started a free online tutoring service for underprivileged students in April, a day after the Circuit Breaker measures were announced. I know that many kids are left out because their families can’t afford private tuition. I’ve been giving tuition to underprivileged students since I was in secondary school.

For this initiative, I roped in two of my best friends to form a team and we contacted social organisations, student care centres and family services centres to get in touch with students.

Three more people joined us through word of mouth. Together, we set up an online tutoring support programme and formed the Covid-19 Tutoring Support (CTSS) core team in less than a week.

Students get a free weekly lesson of up to two hours, and this is not meant to replace the schools’ home-based learning. All the subjects covered in the primary, secondary and junior college syllabus are included.

I was very touched when so many people responded to the call for help on social media. In less than four months, we paired 1,000 tutors with students!

The volunteer tutors include undergraduates, professionals and even those serving national service. We vet the tutors and they must provide us with their certification (recognised diploma, degree, GCE ‘O’ and ‘A’ Level certificates.

They go on rotation based on their schedules. We have another 500 tutors who have yet to be paired with students, so we always have ready “manpower”.

So far, we’ve received positive feedback on the programme. Parents and students have also reached out to us via CTSS social media accounts. We don’t set any financial criteria to determine whether a student is eligible for the program. We provide support to every student who wants to learn.

The parents told me that the pandemic has affected their kids, especially those taking their national exams. They had issues adapting to the quick transition from classroom to online learning.

Many of our tutors use Bramble, an online tutoring platform. It lets them share the resources on screen over video calls. The sessions are recorded and sent to the students so they can refer to them.

With 700 students in the programme now, I hope to reach out to more students in need. Contributing to the education industry has been my dream. I firmly believe that everyone deserves an equal shot when it comes to learning.

This article was first published in Her World Online.