Education is an incredible gift that can have an immeasurable impact on one’s life. For some, education will lead them into the career of their dreams or allow them to expand the boundaries of what their minds can perceive and process, for others education will provide the basic skills that will allow them to lead productive and independent lives. Whilst education can be utilised in different ways, it is equally valuable and empowering for all.
In Australia we are lucky because most children and young adults have opportunity to receive a basic education. However, this does not mean that educational inequality does not exist.All individuals are born with great potential and capacity to learn. However, the ability to fully unlock and embrace this potential often depends on students being able to access the right educational opportunities and being exposed to intellectually stimulating and nurturing environments. Unfortunately, access to these opportunities often depends on the socioeconomic position of students and their families.
Embrace Education is a non-for profit organisation which believes that the social and economic backgrounds of students should not determine the level of educational resources and the number of educational opportunities they receive. All minds should be allowed to develop to their full potential regardless of external circumstances. Quality education is essential to breaking the cycle of disadvantage. Educational inequality affects not only the students, but the whole community as we needlessly lose new ideas, thoughts and potential due to social and economic disadvantage. Embrace Education helps support the growth and educational experience of students from disadvantaged backgrounds through the provision of free tutoring and mentoring. Currently, Embrace Education runs three tutoring programs; Individual Tutoring, Homework Clubs and In School Tutoring.
The Individual Tutoring program aims to provide disadvantaged students with a university student tutor and mentor. Tutors are matched with students based on their subjects, suitability, location and availability. The tutoring sessions are held regularly at a local public library and it is at the discretion of tutors and students to arrange appropriate times and locations to hold the sessions.
The Homework Club program involves a group of tutors attending a Homework Club held at the student’s school in afterschool hours. Students are able to work in an open and relaxed environment with tutors assisting them with any homework or exam study, and acting as mentors that can provide guidance to students. Homework clubs are run at various schools across the suburbs of Melbourne and are held between Mondays to Thursdays.
The In School Tutoring program involves tutors assisting in a classroom environment during school hours, providing support and assistance with classroom activities. Most importantly, tutors are able to provide the one-on-one support which is so vital to the growth of students that can otherwise be difficult to provide.
Trisha has been a tutor with Embrace Education since 2013 believes Embrace Education is an organisation ‘where the members really [want] to make a difference’. She has predominately been involved with the Homework Club program and feels that ‘the best things [about volunteering with Embrace Education] would probably be the amazing people you get to meet, the great students you get to tutor and the fact that just by giving a small amount of time in your week to these [students] you could be making a pretty big difference to them’. For me, Embrace Education has given me incredible opportunities to learn more about myself and about others. As an Embrace Education tutor there are so many opportunities for cross-cultural exchange and to be exposed to eye-opening and thought-provoking experiences.
Of all the positive aspects of volunteering with Embrace Education, the one that I treasure that most is the fact that you can truly witness the positive changes that you’ve made; whether it be a student who was shy but now talks to you endlessly, or a student who once struggled with a concept that they have now mastered. Working with Embrace Education allows you to play an active and central role to improving the educational experiences of disadvantaged students and see them improve and progress with your own eyes. Not only has being a tutor been incredibly rewarding, but it has deepened my understanding of the issues that many disadvantaged students and their families face in breaking the cycle of inequality. Volunteering with the organisation has enabled me to make a positive impact on the education of others, but has encouraged me to rethink what I can do with my own education and the power that it gives me to make a positive impact on the lives of others.
High school student who have participated in the programs have said that ‘It [Homework Club] has inspired me to give 100% in all my subjects and to continue my studies whilst doing well’ and “Maths homework club has really helped me improve my maths. I have a great understanding of the confusing questions that I did not understand’. Teachers have also noted that ‘the tutors not only help the students with their studies, but they act as healthy/positive role models and mentors for the students. It’s great seeing them learn and chat together’.
Embrace Education wouldn’t be the organisation that it is without the university students who volunteer their time and energy every week to ensure that our programs deliver educational support to the students who need it most. If you are passionate about educational equality, want to work with students from a diverse range of backgrounds and want to be involved in something that is both challenging and rewarding than getting involved in Embrace Education would be worth considering. Volunteering with Embrace Education has given me the opportunity to improve and enrich the educational experience of students and be a mentor and role model. It has also allowed me to join a community of like-minded tutors who are passionate about educational equality. As a tutor, you will inspire and empower disadvantaged students to realise their potential by embracing education.
For more information and to apply visit www.embrace-education.org.