Three second year medical students from the University of Hong Kong are trying to make the DSEs easier for some students. They have created Bridge To Success, an organisation that pairs underprivileged students with volunteer tutors.
Young Post caught up with the three founders, Joshua Yim, Alan Tsang and Adrian Cheung, and one of the students benefiting from the programme, Manoj Kumar Karishma, to find out more.
Eighteen-year-old Manoj, originally from India, has been living in Hong Kong for the past few years. She goes to Sir Ellis Kadoorie Secondary School (West Kowloon). For Form Six, she wanted some private tutors.
“As I was new to Hong Kong, I wasn’t familiar with the curriculum. Extra tutorial classes would have been helpful but it just wasn’t possible for my parents to spend half their income on my extra lessons,” says Manoj.
Bridge To Success was able to pair her with a chemistry tutor.
“My teachers at school are very helpful. But there are limitations to classroom learning. The small-group tutorials help me understand the problem areas. They also give me some exam tips,” says Manoj.
But the Bridge To Success tutors have more to offer the students than some help with their schoolwork. They can also share their university experiences with them, as the tutors are usually students themselves.
“Finding out what university is like is the most interesting part for me, as it gives me a clear idea of what to expect,” adds Manoj.
Joshua, Alan and Adrian were united in their idea to help students.
“When I was in Form Four, I offered students living in subdivided housing free tutoring. Quite a few of the Primary Six students I worked with didn’t know how to spell ‘Friday’. They needed help,” says Joshua.
Adrian had a similar experience, tutoring students in Britain.
But Alan was inspired to help for a slightly different reason. When he was in Form Four, he was working on a project about students living in subdivided flats. “It bothered me when I saw students had to do homework and revision on their beds,” says Alan.
They all shared the same vision of helping students in need, but the fact that Bridge to Success became a reality was thanks to chance.
“It was a coincidence. We were put in the same group at medical school. We knew we could do something together,” says Alan.
Each of them decided to invest HK$8,000 to build the website.
“If a student wants help, they can fill in an online application form on the website. Later, they have to provide documents proving their financial situation, such as proof of receiving Comprehensive Social Security Assistance,” says Joshua.
Bridge to Success also has an option for students who aren’t eligible for free tutorials. They pair up tutors with paying students, for which they receive a broker fee. This fee is paid by the tutor, and the amount depends on how many classes the student has within the first two weeks of starting lessons. So, if a student has two classes in that two week period, the fee is the rate for two classes, if they have four classes, the fee is the rate for four classes, etc. These profitable pairings are important to make the organisation’s vision sustainable. “We still have costs, such as maintaining the website. We just hope it will last,” says Adrian.