The meaning of inheritance

By DBS, 28 Sep 2020

“If the children do not learn the way we teach, we teach the way they learn”

"I used to have dyslexia. I did not do well in tests and exams, and my conduct was also not satisfactory. That was, until I met my mentor when I was 16. He taught me how to learn effectively, and how to look at myself properly. From a student who was almost kicked out of school, I was admitted to the University of Hong Kong, and earned two master's degrees. Because of my experience, I decided to help children with the same problems," says Twiggy Chan, founder of the social enterprise Boaz International Education Institute (“Boaz Education”). There is nothing impossible in this world, and we realised the meaning of "inheritance" when we look into Chan's determined but gentle eyes.

Everyone is entitled to an education, and Boaz Education takes this concept one step further by using unique teaching approach to teach students with special education needs. "Our courses are mainly taught on a one-on-one basis or in small groups. After professional evaluation, we will use multi-sensory education to teach different students," Chan says. What is multi-sensory teaching? Chan uses playdough to put together a word as an example. Apart from seeing the word, students can also feel the word to learn its meaning. Besides this method, using diagrams to visualised the stroke in Chinese characters with a story is also an effective way of learning. "For example, take the Chinese character for nose. Through storytelling, children can imagine a teenage boy, with one eye closed as the upper part of the Chinese character; and a bunch of hair flying up, having a nosebleed. And the boy needs to put a bandage on his nose and place one finger horizontally on his nostrils to stop the bleeding,” Chan says. Whether in theory or in practice, imagination is the most important part of learning. Who would have thought that learning to write a Chinese character could be so interesting?

In addition to Hong Kong students, Boaz Education has students from Macau. "I still remember when Oscar first started, he could not even differentiate the letters of the alphabet. But Oscar is so determined to learn that he and his mother travel from Macau to Hong Kong every week to attend classes. Even during the pandemic, he still wanted to learn online via video conferencing. After one year of hard work, Oscar, without needing the teachers to read the questions to him, achieved an average score of over 90 in his exams. People often ask: "Twiggy, why are you so determined in what you do?". Cases like Oscar are the answer to that question.

"Self-motivated learners”

You can only untie a knot when you have imagination for the future and explore the meaning of a question. Boaz Education bridges the gap between schools, parents and students. "When children do poorly in academic, the children will feel stressed at school, and parents do not know how to help. Actually, if you look closely at the fundamentals, you will understand that apart from words, they also need to learn how to organise the words together and systematically express what they want to present. Step by step, we can bridge that gap by guiding the children and helping them become self-motivated learners," says Vienne Ng, Head of Learning Support, as she turns on the computer for an online class. After the online class, the mother of the girl expresses her gratitude for Ng's help. Now the girl can even tell her mother different ways to help her in learning, which is self-motivated.

Law of attraction

Chan happily tells us that although less than 2.2 percent of students with special education needs could enter tertiary education, one of her students was recently admitted to a well-known university in England to study design. But the most touching part was a conversation from years ago. "The student realised that dyslexia was no longer an obstacle, but a gift from God to let her experience what it was like so she could help others," Chan says as tears well up in her eyes because she could see her old self.

After years of perseverance, Boaz Education got the attention of DBS Foundation which shares the same belief and offered them a helping hand. "Receiving DBS Foundation Social Enterprise Grant made more resources available to us and made it possible to expand Boaz Education. We have been able to establish a 'Train the Trainer' programme to help nurture more instructors,” Chan says. “Those who successfully complete the course will receive accreditation recognised by the British government, so they will be qualified to pursue their mission of helping more children with dyslexia or with other special education needs." ."Train the Trainer" means more qualified instructors will be nurtured, and many more students with special education needs will benefit. With the support of DBS, the social impact of Boaz Education can grow.