Free tutoring service proves to be a major triumph

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Free tutoring service proves to be a major triumph

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Kim In-ho, head of the Midam Scholarship program. [KWON HYUK-JAE]

Only eight students gathered to receive free tutoring from the Midam Scholarship program when it began in 2010, but today, it has 600 voluntary teachers giving free lessons to over 5,000 registered students.

Since the inception of this non-profit education program, over 10,000 students benefited from free education programs that are offered by the organization and run by college students. The person behind this growth is Kim In-ho, a 27-year-old college student at Kyungpook National University, who currently heads the organization.

His journey to build Midam began when he first felt a pang of sympathy for students who came from disadvantaged backgrounds.

“I think money and background should not get in the way of people’s right to an education,” says Kim. “So, I decided to build an education center myself to provide free tutoring.”

At the time, there was no place to teach them, so Kim had to use a university classroom.

“On weekends, the classrooms are empty, and I thought it made a good place to teach them,” he said, “Since college is designed for learning, I think everyone can use it as a base for precisely that purpose.”

As the number of students kept increasing over time, Kim recruited more voluntary teachers. In the process, he met his partner, Jang Neung-in, who currently co-heads the organization with him. With the help of Jang, who attended the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (Kaist), a prestigious research college in Daejeon, the program was able to recruit an increasing number of Kaist students as teachers. Later, students from 11 major colleges across the region began to take part in the program.

But the program isn’t confined to teaching specific subjects. It also provides a mentoring service to help teenagers select a well suited major and link that major with their goals and dreams.

“The current education system is only focused on getting good results on the college entrance exam,” Kim says, “But it is important to think about what kind of major students want to pursue and what sort of jobs they’ll want in the future.”

Since 2013, Midam has transformed itself into a social enterprise engaging in different businesses related to education, including providing after school programs. Through these different projects, Midam generated 1.2 billion won ($1 million). Most of the funds are used to run free education classes and provide scholarships.

“The size of the organization grew on a scale that I could never expect,” he says. “This means that there is much responsibility. I want to do a number of different projects at Midam.”

Kim says that, despite the hard work involved, the positive changes that take place through the program are what keeps him going.

“I am really happy when I see how our work at Midam changes people’s lives.”

BY JEONG A-RAM [park.eunjee@joongang.co.kr]

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