NUS launches Teach Singapore with S$10 million gift from Ho Bee Land

Teach SG empowers NUS student volunteers to take on tutoring and mentorship roles for primary and secondary school children from low-income families.

The National University of Singapore (NUS) has received a generous donation of S$10 million from Ho Bee Land, through its philanthropic arm Ho Bee Foundation, which will be channelled towards Teach Singapore (Teach SG), a flagship university-wide community outreach programme. Piloted by NUS in January 2021, Teach SG empowers NUS students to make a difference in the lives of children and youths from disadvantaged backgrounds through community-based tutoring and mentoring.

The gift was presented to NUS President Professor Tan Eng Chye by Founder and Executive Chairman of Ho Bee Land Limited Dr Chua Thian Poh at the official launch ceremony of Teach SG, held today at the NUS University Cultural Centre (UCC), which was graced by Guest-of-Honour Minister for Education, Mr Chan Chun Sing.

NUS President Professor Tan Eng Chye said, “We are deeply thankful to Ho Bee Land and Dr Chua Thian Poh for the gift of S$10 million, which will go towards empowering NUS students to provide mentorship and guidance to youths and children from low-income households through Teach SG.

Education is one of the critical enablers to achieve social mobility. Children and youths from lower-income households, however, may not enjoy a level playing field due to various challenges. We started Teach SG at NUS in the hope of addressing this area of need and doing more than just offering tuition. Teach SG will give them a better head start in life by  providing academic support, building character, developing good study habits, and inspiring them towards further education . Furthermore, it will seed positive social responsibility in NUS students while reinforcing the University’s tradition of giving back to society.

We thank Ho Bee Land and Dr Chua, and other donors for their generosity and unwavering support, and also for sharing our commitment to educate and inspire beyond the University, and make an impact on the community around us.”

Dr Chua Thian Poh, Founder and Executive Chairman of Ho Bee Land Limited, said, “It has always been a key priority for me and for Ho Bee Land to invest in a holistic education where our younger generation has the opportunity to make real transformative change in the community and, in society.

I am confident that the positive impact of Teach SG will be far-reaching and sustainable as it broadens the reach of Ho Bee in nurturing youths as community leaders and future changemakers. With meaningful initiatives like Teach SG, I trust that more people will see the importance of advancing social mobility through education.”

Ho Bee Land, together with Founder and Executive Chairman Dr Chua Thian Poh, have partnered NUS for over a decade to develop community leadership and social responsibility in NUS students. Dr Chua’s first gift to the University in 2011 saw the founding of the Chua Thian Poh Community Leadership Programme, which was later expanded through the establishment of the Chua Thian Poh Community Leadership Centre in 2017 with a second gift from Dr Chua. Building on this, Dr Chua and Ho Bee Land’s generous contribution to Teach SG will go towards building greater capabilities in community leadership among NUS students in a sustainable way.

Please refer to Annex A for more information on Dr Chua Thian Poh and Ho Bee Land Limited.

Impacting society through education

Armed with the mission of inculcating a flourishing culture of giving back and paying it forward among NUS students, Teach SG builds a community of student volunteers who go forth to provide academic coaching and mentorship for children and youths from lower-income families. Teach SG provides a platform and opportunity for students of NUS to respond to a duty to the surrounding community, impacting the lives of those in need and enriching their NUS experience beyond studies.

Volunteers are trained in coaching and mentoring skills such as rapport and trust-building, and how to engage the beneficiaries with care and empathy. As part of their training, volunteers are provided with a toolkit of resources such as instructional materials, in-person and online activities, games, as well as budgeting guides and survey templates to facilitate their mentoring sessions. The duration of engagement between mentors and mentees typically take place over a minimum of 12 weeks.  

Teach SG started in January 2021 as a pilot programme with seed funding provided by another donor, and has since recruited over 700 NUS student mentors across more than 70 projects. Working closely with 76 community partners such as primary and secondary schools, and social service agencies, the programme has extended its reach and impacted close to 1,240 children and youth beneficiaries.

The Teach SG programme will be offered as a practicum with modular credits under the Communities and Engagement Pillar, one of six pillars within the enhanced General Education curriculum required of all NUS undergraduates. The Communities and Engagement Pillar, which will be offered from Academic Year 2022/23 beginning in August 2022, 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. 

This generous gift from Ho Bee Land and other donors will enable the Teach SG programme to achieve greater scale, forging stronger community bonds between NUS students and beneficiaries from primary and secondary school.

Associate Professor Ho Han Kiat, NUS Dean of Students, said, “We know education is an important social leveler enabling our young people to realise their dreams and aspirations. Many families, however, cannot afford tuition and some youths lack positive role models growing up. Teach SG allows NUS students to serve the community and bridge this gap by doing what we are best in – educate and mentor. Our hope is that Teach SG can grow, from a ground-up idea, to become a larger movement with a life of its own within the NUS experience where impacting lives is part of the DNA of every NUS student.”

Please refer to Annex B for quotes from our community partners, student mentors and beneficiaries.