SINGAPORE – Ever since full home-based learning started last month, 18-year-old Magdalene Koh has had to prepare for the A-level examinations from home.
Thankfully, on top of teachers and friends, she also has access to her seniors for support.
The second-year junior college student is part of Project Aegis, an academic mentorship programme which pairs participating students at Eunoia Junior College with alumni. The pairs meet virtually for weekly sessions. Students can sign up individually or as a group.
“It’s really heartwarming to know our seniors want to help us through this period of change. They may be able to relate more to our struggles and explain concepts differently,” Ms Koh says.
Project Aegis was started by a group of former students of the college, including project head Kenneth Hoh, 19.
With more than 100 mentors and 200 mentees, it aims to go beyond tutoring by encouraging mentors to share their experiences of growth.
Mr Hoh says: “Previously, we had seen the earlier batch of alumni members returning to the college to help out. While we couldn’t physically return to the campus, we were determined to contribute in a meaningful and relevant way.”
Deputy project head Rebekah Seow, 19, adds: “We may not be healthcare workers, but we do what we can to support one another.”
Another similar initiative is Project Circuit, in which volunteers tutor junior college students online.
While the tutoring sessions are free, the project encourages donations to groups like the Migrant Workers’ Centre which are supporting Covid-19 relief efforts.
Project Circuit was started by 19-year-olds Moh Jin Yin, Catherine K., Loh Su Jean, Dan Yuet Ruh and Amy Lin, all of whom recently graduated from Raffles Institution.
“With a number of other tutoring initiatives directly supporting underprivileged students, we saw an opportunity to offer a similar service for a different end – raising funds for communities affected by Covid-19, such as migrant workers and underserved households in Singapore,” say the teens behind the project.
Students interested in their tutoring services can find out more at the website. They currently have more than 50 tutors and around 70 tutees.
“Having completed our A levels just last year, we remember the rush to finish the syllabus and can only imagine how this must be compounded by disruptions due to the circuit breaker,” say the team members. “We hope to provide some support at a time when school life is barely recognisable.”
Most of the volunteers are juggling these projects with other commitments like national service, work and internships.
Project Aegis deputy head Ong Chong Yu, 19, who is doing national service, says: “I was initially worried about whether we could get enough mentors on such a short notice. I was really taken aback by the strong response from our peers, some of whom are national servicemen, interns or volunteer mentors for similar external initiatives.”
Aside from “happy challenges” like managing the overwhelming demand, the Aegis team is also working through technical issues with online communication channels. Still, these youth remain undeterred in their mission to help students.
Mr Hoh says: “In the end, online mediums are just platforms for us to communicate – it is the sincerity of our mentors that will make an impact, regardless of what platform we choose to adopt.”
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