Building lives, nurturing minds: Teach Singapore honours student volunteers, donors and community partners one year on

Over the past year, Nur Hadijah Binte Ramlan, a Year 3 undergraduate at the NUS College of Design and Engineering, has spent two hours every week with children from Naval Base Primary School and Yong En Care Centre playing the role of a ‘big sister’ in providing academic tuition, and engaging them in mentoring activities such as games and outings.

Nur Hadijah is one of nearly 1,400 student volunteers for the Teach Singapore (Teach SG) programme at NUS, since its inception in 2021.

First piloted in January 2021 and officially launched in April 2022, the Teach SG programme has empowered NUS students to make a difference in the lives of children and youths from disadvantaged families through community-based tutoring and mentoring. Working closely with community partners such as MOE UPLIFT (Uplifting Pupils in Life and Inspiring Families Taskforce), primary and secondary schools, and social service agencies, the programme has recruited close to 1,400 NUS students to mentor nearly 3,100 children and youth beneficiaries.

At an appreciation lunch on 21 May, NUS paid tribute to donors, student mentors and community partners for their selfless contributions to the Teach SG programme in the past year. At the event held at the NUSS Kent Ridge Guild House, 108 attendees came together to reminisce and acknowledge the hands and hearts which have been involved in the University’s flagship community outreach programme.

Likening the role of mentors as ‘a rising tide that lifts all boats’, Nur Hadijah shared a poignant reflection that mentors have the power to uplift and empower their mentees. “Mentorship can enable mentees to overcome their circumstances and find strength within themselves,” she said.

“Through our guidance and support, we can create a positive ripple effect, empowering mentees to overcome challenges, grow, and thrive,” she added.

Kicking off the event with a recorded opening speech, Second Minister for Education Dr Maliki Osman lauded nationwide efforts to support children from disadvantaged families, as well as the positive impact of programmes such as Teach SG in broadening worldviews and supporting holistic development of children.

“All of you serve as positive role models to your younger charges, playing the role of big sisters and big brothers. You help them build confidence and inspire them to believe in themselves,” Dr Maliki emphasised.

“By forging strong bonds over time, the values you impart and the guidance you offer to help these students discover their strengths make their lives seem a little brighter and enable them to strive towards their aspirations,” he added.

The programme also welcomed onboard new donors Neoasia, who have pledged to contribute S$100,000 to the Teach SG programme in the coming year. Their contribution will join others in going towards the development of mentoring curriculum and activities for the Teach SG mentees.

Conveying his thanks for the various ways different parties have contributed to the programme, NUS President Professor Tan Eng Chye said, “This would not have been possible without the generosity of our donors, the support of our community partners, and the initiative and dedication of our student mentors.”

The appreciation lunch marked a remarkable year for the Teach SG programme, acknowledging the positive impact of the mentors in fostering a sense of community and learning. As part of the programme, student volunteers receive training in mentoring skills, including rapport and trust-building, and are provided with a toolkit of resources, such as instructional materials and activities, for their mentoring sessions.

Since August 2022, Teach SG has also been offered as a practicum with modular credits under the Communities and Engagement (C&E) Pillar, within the enhanced General Education curriculum required of all NUS undergraduates. The C&E pillar seeks to engage students in thinking deeply about and taking constructive actions to address societal needs and real-world issues such as inequality, poverty, and underprivileged and disadvantaged communities, amongst other issues. 

 Click here to learn more about the Teach SG programme and how to volunteer.