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Thursday October 10, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Thursday October 10, 2013 MYT 10:51:51 AM
by steven daniel
A TEACHER’S idea to rope in volunteers to help students lagging behind in their studies has paid off handsomely.
Brian Geh, 26, with help from other teachers, started the programme called “Closing the Gap” last year.
Geh, a teacher at SMK Tengku Idris Shah in Kapar, Klang, had noticed that about 200 students in Form One and Form Two were largely illiterate and uninterested in their studies.
“In many classes, there is a disparity in the students’ abilities. There are those who can keep up with what is taught, while others are so far behind that they become bored and demotivated.
“If nothing is done to help these children, they will play truant, get involved in gangs, fights and other social ills. With this in mind, a few teachers and I came up with the idea of ‘Closing the Gap’ to help this specific group,” he said.
Geh roped in tertiary students because from his own experience, this group had a lot of free time on their hands.
“Any college student can teach basic English, Bahasa Malaysia and Mathematics. I thought it would be a great idea to rope them in to help the students.
“Personal attention is what these students lack. In a classroom of 40 students, it is simply impossible to provide that kind of attention,” he said.
RE:ED (which stands for Re Education) was a valuable partner when Geh started the programme by providing volunteers and helping out with the logistics and fundraising activities.
RE:ED was founded by HELP University students Pow Yih Ling and Yo’el Gabriel Wong in April last year to recruit volunteers to teach in extra classes for students from high-need schools who lagged behind in their studies because of poor mastery of basic literacy and numeracy skills.
Yih Ling started out in March with just 10 volunteers carpooling from HELP University to Kapar in a 45minute drive to the school each week.
“There were around 200 students attending the tuition classes. I realised that having 10 volunteers would not make a difference,” said the second-year Psychology student.
“Furthermore, all the 10 volunteers were from the Psychology programme.
“They were going on a long semester break in June, so I had to get students from other programmes to ensure there was a pool of volunteers to tutor the students,” she added.
Yih Ling then decided to form a network to recruit more volunteers and The RE:ED Project was officially launched as a club in June last year.
RE:ED now has more than 100 volunteers from HELP University, Taylor’s University, Cempaka Schools Malaysia and several working adults who are interested in RE:ED’s cause
“It is easier to recruit college students as volunteers compared to working adults,” said Geh.
Geh said many of the children come from troubled family backgrounds, such as alcoholic fathers and have family members involved in gangs.
He said since it began in the middle of last year, the programme had seen encouraging results in many students.
“Some of the parents are thankful and appreciative of the personal attention our volunteers give to help their children read and write,” he said.
The extra classes, held for two hours every Saturday, see at least seven volunteers teaching basic English and Mathematics to classes comprising 35 students each.
Volunteers under RE:ED are provided with modules developed by Geh and his colleagues.
A similar programme was also introduced in SMK Bandar Baru Ampang, Selangor, earlier this year.
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Central Region, Family & Community, closing the gap, volunteer, illiterate, university gangster
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