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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 17 January 2021

UAE pupils set up free peer-to-peer tutoring platforms

Learning programmes connect individuals in a mentoring-like situation where one child teaches another

Aisha Siddiqui has established a peer mentorship initiative to help pupils falling behind in studies. Reem Mohammed/The National
Aisha Siddiqui has established a peer mentorship initiative to help pupils falling behind in studies. Reem Mohammed/The National

UAE pupils have set up online platforms to help peers catch up on lessons or clear doubts in various subjects.

Mentors in such peer-to-peer coaching clubs can give individual classes to children.

Aisha Siddiqui, a Year 11 Indian pupil at Cambridge International School Dubai, set up Siddiqui Academy two months ago. The platform is open to pupils in Year 7 and above.

It aims to help those who are struggling with studies or want an extra push to excel.

The platform has helped 50 pupils in various subjects.

“When schools transitioned from in-person to online education, many pupils felt they were falling behind and it was difficult for them to cope," Aisha said.

“There was a reluctance to ask a question during online classes, because you felt all eyes were on you.

“I realised the best person one could learn from was someone their own age as they could ask questions without feeling judged.”

Pupils in years 7 to 13 can become tutors or mentors in various subjects such as biology, chemistry, computer science, drama, debate, English and economics.

The platform is open only to those following the British curriculum.

Aisha also wanted to help pupils who had to be taught at home after their parents lost jobs during the pandemic.

“Some of my friends could not afford to go to school and having someone explain a concept helped them,” she said.

She created Siddiqui Academy and recruited tutors, while her parents paid to build the website.

The programme has 12 tutors. One of them is in the UK and dedicates at least two hours every week to coach members.

Some pupils in the UAE joined such clubs to do their community service hours required at school.

Volunteer Myra Kirmani, a Year 11 Indian pupil at Dubai English Speaking College, said she was bored studying alone and signed up to tutor others via Siddiqui Academy.

“I saw fellow pupils struggling and wanted to help them," Myra said.

“I help pupils study and also learn with them as that makes it easier and fun.”

Wei Ling Kuan, a Year 11 pupil at Cambridge International School, found chemistry difficult and sought the help of a tutor at Siddiqui Academy.

“When studying online at school, I felt I could not ask questions," she said.

“I studied electrolysis with a tutor and this helped me.

“Chemistry is a complicated subject but after the lesson I felt motivated to study because I finally understood a concept.”

Another Dubai pupil, Rajvir Kohli, who is in Grade 12 at Gems Wellington Academy Silicon Oasis, developed a similar platform called StudySmart.

It is a free platform that offers timetables, crash-course videos and studying advice for GCSE, IB and A-level examinations. StudySmart launched in June and has 150 users.

Some pupils also set up websites to give live training in cooking and game development.

Pupils at The Winchester School, Jebel Ali, created Project Rona in May to help pupils learn new skills while studying at home.

It offers Zoom classes in cooking, astronomy, philosophy, game development debate, dance, music and art.

So far, 390 pupils have signed up, while another 300 are to join in the next round of classes.

Rabab Alrubaie, 16, co-founder of Project Rona and a Canadian pupil at The Winchester School, said: "The programme gives opportunities for pupils who want to teach and those who want to learn a new skill."

Deena Sandani, 16, also the co-founder, said internships and extracurricular activities were not possible this summer but the teaching platform helped pupils take on work they were passionate about.

Updated: December 6, 2020 10:03 AM

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