More than 1,000 volunteers have signed up to help under Temporary Academic Assistance.
As a secondary school student, Andy Teo needed help with his weaker subjects. So when home-based learning was announced as part of the circuit breaker measures, Andy, who does part-time tutoring, thought: How are students who are taking national exams going to get help, especially if they are struggling with certain topics?
With his classes at Nanyang Technological University all moved online as well, he had plenty of free time. So he thought of using that time to help students in need – regardless of their background – via online tutoring.
“But I can only teach one subject, principle of accounts, so an idea struck me. What if I’m able to get people who are able to teach other subjects taught in the schools to help as well?” Andy told Youth.SG.
Andy then created a google document for those interested in helping primary and secondary students with their studies during the circuit breaker period. In a matter of weeks, it blew up, with thousands signing up to volunteer their free time – giving birth to the initiative called Temporary Academic Assistance (TAA).
“Basically, I just created the form for those who want to volunteer to sign up. Those parents who felt their child needed help, they can just go over to the database and link up with the tutors,” explained the 25-year-old accountancy undergraduate.
Under TAA, students or their parents can just go through the list and contact the tutors via their email or contact number listed. Each volunteer tutor just needs to spend 30 minutes to help the students, instead of hosting a two-hour session like a usual tuition.
“If you see the database, the tutors indicated for the students to come prepared with questions. They are more than willing to answer it or clarify any concepts. That’s the whole purpose of TAA,” shared Andy.
Andy added that the target is to help students who might struggle with the transition from a classroom setting to home-based learning. He pointed out as well that it can also be hard for students who might need more guidance from their teacher to seek help, since they are home and do not see their teacher face-to-face.
“We know educators and teachers are busy with admin stuff, changing their lesson plans to suit online teaching. So we also want to help alleviate the stress for them during this period and that’s why the initiative is born,” Andy said.
Till date, TAA has helped at least 100 students, based on the responses from the volunteers. But Andy reckons that the number could be a lot more, as some of the tutors haven’t filled up the form that he sent out to them. Andy said he did not expect TAA to grow so big.
He explained that he had started the initiative with no expectations at all, and certainly without much planning. Even at the start, he only posted about the initiative on his own social media accounts.
“I thought if I can reach 50 volunteers, that’s the best. Now it’s reached over 1000 volunteers and I needed more manpower to help out with this, so I got nine of my friends from NTU to help in different areas – to reach out to more people with social media, replying to parents’ queries and sorting out the database,” said Andy.
Andy is heartened by the overwhelming response he got from the volunteer tutors, which shows that Singaporeans in general are a “loving and helpful” bunch. He even received an email from a 15-year-old student, who wanted to teach Primary School students.
“I told him there are no age restrictions and if he wants to help, he can. These instances are the ones that really warms my heart. This is done for the students, but they want to volunteer and help as well. I didn’t even have this in mind,” shared Andy.
“I’m really happy that during this crisis, we see Singaporeans coming together to help one another.”
TAA will carry on until full home-based learning ends.
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