LiveSg Stories

No Child Left Behind In Singapore

Restoring hope, dignity and significance to communities through reading

Back in 2013, when lawyer Jonathan Muk (Jon) was giving tuition to a 12 year-old girl, he met her younger brother, who came across as a bright and articulate six year-old. Thinking he could read, Jon opened a book and started reading it to him.  

That was when he realised that the boy could not even recognised one-syllable words.  

Jon was worried about the boy’s future. “How’s he going to go to school and learn?” he wondered. 

 

Gathering of kindred hearts

When Jon got home, he prayed as he was reading a book titled ‘Generous Justice’ by author and pastor, Timothy Keller.  He was moved by God’s heart for justice on behalf of the less privileged in the society.  

Jon asked God if it was His call for Him to help to do something about the issue of literacy, God had to show him the way as he was completely feeling inadequate and clueless. 

God led him to approach his former lawyer colleague, Amanda Chong. She resonated very much with this idea. Literacy has always been important to her, being a writer who also loves reading.  

 “I could see how closing that literacy gap would be a huge thing to resolve social inequality, or at least help bridge that gap,” said Amanda. 

Together, they teamed up with another lawyer friend, Michelle Yeo and explored how they could help increase literacy levels of low income families through reading. 

That’s how ReadAble started in 2014! 

Birth of ReadAble 

Weekly reading classes were held in a migrant mom’s one-room flat in Jalan Kukoh, a district of Chinatown in Singapore with a number of low income families. They bought books and even started a mini library in that flat.  

Classes grew in size by word of mouth, with over 20 children aged 5 to 9 joining them.  At some point, the numbers grew so huge that children who came had to read along the corridor and staircase landing!

Along the way, some children and parents even gradually formed strong bonds with the trio and the other volunteers.

One of the ReadAble parents Noridah,  said, “They (ReabAble’s co-founders and volunteers) really go all the way for the children. I’m really very blessed and very touched.”

ReadAble’s mantra to all residents’ children: You are loved, deserving of dignity like anyone else.  

 

The sky’s the limit

Amanda was recently awarded the Singapore Youth Award 2018, given by the National Youth Council, as an honour for the contributions she had made to society as “an advocate for social justice and equality” in co-founding ReadAble, and for her work as a poetry writer.  

Today, ReadAble teaches weekly in the Jalan Kukoh Residents’ committee centre. Jon says, 

“(Through ReadAble’s success), I hope our efforts will be an example to others of how low income families can be supported and spur others to do the same across the country, or even perhaps over the region.”

“I do wish that whatever we do here in Jalan Kukoh with ReadAble will be an example of how families can be supported. Hopefully, this will enable more (similar) work to be started across this country and perhaps—the region.”

God often does not look for the qualified, He qualifies the called. Through Jon, Michelle and Amanda, we saw how a single idea germinated in compassionate hearts, can help many live significantly. 

Today, if you have a burden or burning desire in your heart, would you allow God to fan it into something bigger to make a difference?

 

References:

https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/needy-kids-get-help-in-learning-to-read

https://www.lettersofthelaw.org/read-all/jonathan-muk-lawyer

https://mothership.sg/2018/01/lawyer-by-day-poet-over-lunch-reader-over-weekends-sporean-puts-her-privilege-to-good-use/

https://www.readablesg.com

©1994-2019 Cru. All Rights Reserved.