Registration fee for Mendaki's tuition scheme cut from $210 to $10
Malay/Muslim students applying for the Mendaki Tuition Scheme (MTS) need to pay an annual registration fee of only $10 from this year - a sharp drop from the previous $210.
Self-help group Yayasan Mendaki hopes this will make quality and affordable tuition more accessible to lower-income families.
Mendaki deputy chairman Zaqy Mohammad said he hopes this will encourage more individuals to enrol in and benefit from the MTS.
"We want to streamline the registration fee so every child is given the opportunity for education and does not have to worry about affordability."
The scheme offers English, maths and science tuition to students in Primary 1 to Secondary 5.
As at Saturday (Feb 5) there were 6,591 students enrolled in the scheme.
"We are moving into Stem (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) sectors, and strengths in science, mathematics and technology have to be much stronger," said Mr Zaqy, who is also Senior Minister of State for Manpower and Defence.
More than 2,600 of these students have registered for virtual centres, where lessons are conducted over the Zoom platform. The centres, which were launched this year, aim to reach out to those who have challenges attending physically, for reasons such as the Covid-19 pandemic, said Mr Zaqy.
MTS has 1,152 tutors, consisting of undergraduates, working professionals and retirees.
Class sizes are kept small, with no more than 15 students each - a factor that students interviewed said has helped improve their learning and grades.
Muhammmad Aniq Farhan Anel, 15, a student at Marsiling Secondary School, said his maths results have improved greatly since he enrolled in the tuition scheme at the start of last year.
Said the Secondary 3 Normal (Academic) student, with three siblings who are also enrolled in the tuition scheme: "In school, a teacher has to teach a class of 30 students. Here in MTS, tutors can focus on one student if we don't understand a concept."
His schoolmate Niqi Nurfalisha Norazmi, 16, first joined the scheme when she was a Secondary 1 student. She said the scheme greatly improved her grades in English and maths.
"Before the scheme, I had many 'U' grades. But now, I am starting to get C5s."
MTS is also taking on a more holistic approach, with enrichment programmes for students at the upper secondary level. For instance, the #AmPowered @ MTS mentorship programme aims to guide Secondary 3 and 4 students on their options in higher learning once they complete their O or N levels.
Undergraduates and young adults aged 18 to 35 years old are trained as mentors and matched with a maximum of three students under the nine-month programme.
Mr Mirza Nabil Putra Azhar, 22, has been a mentor since last April. The nursing undergraduate from the National University of Singapore said he provides his mentees with study tips, guidance on course choices and industry insights. "We're like big brothers and sisters," he said
Mr Zaqy said he hopes the programmes provided by Mendaki will help and inspire students to do well in school.
"We want everyone to have a tertiary education, because in this day and age, in this modern world, you need a certain level of competency to be able to succeed."