What You Need to Know About Tuition Programme

Zhang Haolin

I joined the Heartware Tuition Programme 2017, and tutored primary school children from lower income households.

I will be honest with you; when I first joined this programme, I thought this would be a good opportunity to enhance my portfolio and get the VIA hours. I was thinking about the benefits that I would get out of this, and very little about the people that I was supposed to help in the first place. But that really changed along the way, when I went out on the ground over a period of time.

Due to my messed up timetable and very different CCAs, I wasn’t able to go for the normal afternoon timeslots in the Tuition Programme. So I was allocated to Catch Plus at Jalan Kukoh, which is a centre at a low-income estate at Chinatown. You can imagine after a hectic day of lectures, tutorials, and CCAs, I would go this centre to teach these children about basic Math and Science. It’s fun. But if there’s one thing to really learn from the programme, it’s this:

The concept of entity. That you’ll be able to relate to those around you and just think about the troubles that they have.

I recalled a story told by my tutee. This young Malay boy was just in Primary 3. He was living in that low income estate at Chinatown with his mum, uncles, and aunties, but his dad was in jail. He was sharing with me that his mum and uncles quarreled about money.

The discussion got heated and a lot of words were exchanged. Neighbours poked their heads out of their windows to find out what was going on, and then went right back to what they were doing.

I think this presents a very apt microcosm of our society, of how we treat people from the lower income household. How people just ignore them and leave it to the government to deal with their issues, because it’s not our problem.

One thing you have to understand, going into this programme, is that these children grow up in a dysfunctional household. They do not have that love, joy, and support our families give to us. They don’t have the financial resources that we have, to find ourselves tuition or enrichment lessons.

They grew up in an environment where it’s much too easy for them to go out and engage in a game of catch with friends, instead of staying at home to study. Where it’s much too easy for them to repeat the same mistakes as their parents made. Where it’s much too easy for them to fall back to the same poverty cycle that have plagued their family for generations.

At the end of the day, when I had 4 CCAs back in Year 4, and I was reaching home at 11pm everyday, I ultimately had to make a choice between continuing the programme and prioritising my academics. I chose this programme in the end.

VIA has never been about giving back to the community through little tokenistic gestures, but about learning more about yourself and the society we live in. Either be a passerby in that child’s life or have the power to fundamentally change the entire life trajectory of that child; to give him or her that hope and aspiration towards a better future; to pull themselves out of that vicious poverty cycle.

Use that knowledge and power that you have to effect real substantial change in future. Invest your time and effort into disenfranchised youth that will form the future generation.

Written by Zhang Haolin, 18, Dunman High School 

Volunteer tutor, Tuition Programme 2017

We’re looking for volunteers for Tuition Programme 2018!

TP18 eDM Volunteers

Sign up now on www.youthbank.sg