RI to expand mentoring programme in 2023 to help primary school pupils
Raffles Institution will expand its mentoring programme from 2023, with its students tutoring Primary 4 to 6 pupils who receive financial assistance from their schools, RI principal Frederick Yeo announced on Saturday (July 23).
The announcement was made during the secondary school's 199th Founder's Day at its Albert Hong Hall, with about 850 attendees, including students from Year 1 to 6, alumni, staff and board members.
The programme will start with Primary 4 pupils in 2023. It will progressively include Primary 5 and 6 pupils in 2024 and 2025. RI will be committing resources and time to the mentoring programme for at least 10 years.
"We must ensure that highly capable students from less well-to-do families are not deterred from joining RI. This is a gap that we must continue to bridge consciously," Mr Yeo said.
Primary schools participating in the mentoring programme are Ang Mo Kio Primary, Bendemeer Primary, Cedar Primary, Gan Eng Seng Primary, Jingshan Primary, Mayflower Primary, New Town Primary, Teck Ghee Primary, Townsville Primary and Xinghua Primary.
The primary schools were chosen as they are near RI, which makes travelling easier as most of the weekly mentoring activities will be held in the primary schools.
Dean of student development for Year 1 to 4 Melissa Lim Ai Lin, 47, said: "Through this programme, we hope our students will be able to contribute back to society and learn from primary school pupils with backgrounds different to theirs."
Ms Lim added: "Our focus is on building a relationship between the mentors and mentees. This will encourage primary school students to have stronger aspirations and pick up life skills from our students."
The institution expects to help about 200 pupils from the 10 primary schools in 2023.
Ms Lim said the school wants to have more mentors than pupils in case there are sessions some mentors cannot attend due to other commitments. Ideally there would be two to three mentors per pupil, she said.
The weekly mentoring sessions will be planned by the institution's Interact Club, which is a community service club, and approved by the primary school's teachers.
"Only students with good conduct will be chosen to be mentors. This means they cannot have been called out for poor behaviour, come to school late or miss deadlines. If they cannot manage their own tasks and time well, they will not be good role models for the primary school pupils," said Ms Lim.
The event's guest-of-honour, Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat, recounted his days as a Rafflesian: "I still remember the sights and sounds of the old campus. Most of all, I remember the easy camaraderie amongst my classmates, who came from a diverse range of backgrounds and cultures."
"The world that awaits our youths has many challenges, with the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war and US-China contestation. This is reminiscent of the 1970s, when I was still in RI. The Cold War was in full swing but my generation did not lose hope," Mr Heng said, encouraging the graduating class of 2021.
Mr Heng was invited to launch the RI200 site. Alumni may visit the site to share memories of their schooling days and view upcoming RI events.
Around half of RI students live in public housing, lower than the national school's average, according to Mr Heng.