Caring for the community


With her Cambridge IGCSE examinations cancelled due to the pandemic, 17-year-old international student Aarushi Menon decided to put her time to good use.

During the circuit breaker, she started giving free one-to-one French and maths classes online. To keep things lively, she introduced fun activities such as bingo and dice multiplication for maths lessons, and charades during French classes. When students enjoyed the sessions so much that they returned as paying customers, Aarushi decided to channel her earnings to the Bone Marrow Donor Programme, a non-profit organisation. She has since raised $1,240.

Aarushi, who came to Singapore in 2012, says: “I spent most of my growing up years in the local community and have always wanted to give back to society. I have finally found a way to guide others in their studies while helping those who are suffering from illness at the same time.”

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A financial literacy programme by the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) and DBS Bank, which has helped students save more since it was piloted last year, is being rolled out to 27,000 students across all three ITE colleges.

The programme, which was introduced to 10,000 first-year students last year, now includes second-year students and focuses on financial management after they graduate and enter the workforce. Students learn topics such as how Central Provident Fund accounts work, different types of insurance coverage available and the basics of investing.

Lessons have been adapted for home-based learning, using Web-based exercises and DBS’ NAV Planner, a digital advisory tool that lets students plan and monitor their financial goals.

Mr Jeremy Soo, DBS’ Singapore head of consumer banking group, says: “This year is a learning opportunity for these young adults as it has brought home the importance of having good financial habits, and how these habits can help safeguard one’s finances in times of crisis.”


A new book in the Grady Bear series will help children cope with feeling bored during the pandemic. PHOTO: CLEO TAN

Author and mother Su-Ann Mae Phillips, who has written three children’s books in the Grady Bear series, returns with a fourth title for pre-schoolers. The book, which will be ready in December, is illustrated by Nanyang Technological University student Cleo Tan, who was trained as an animator at Ngee Ann Polytechnic. The book aims to help parents address issues their children may be facing, such as boredom or self-doubt, which have surfaced while they are stuck at home during the coronavirus pandemic.

The book project has hit its initial target of $5,000 on crowdfunding platform Kickstarter and the team is raising funds to donate copies to schools or charities.

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Anticipating financial hardship from the Covid-19 fallout, the Singapore Management University (SMU) is aiming to raise $240,000 for student bursaries through its inaugural Smoo Challenge, in which participants will run, walk, kickbox or dance their way to a combined distance of 20,000km. Proceeds will go towards the SMU Bursary Fund.

Meanwhile, Nanyang Technological University (NTU) is holding its first virtual run, with funds going to the NTU bursary.

Recipients include students such as undergraduate Tan Mei Xin, whose father died of lung cancer. Her mother suffers from epilepsy, while her elder brother is the family’s sole breadwinner. Ms Tan, who is from the school of electrical and electronic engineering, says the bursary has allowed her to focus on her studies and experience hall life at NTU.

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