From a culinary professional to a teacher, Christopher Cheong chose a completely different career path than the one he studied for. Through the loss of his friend Kenneth, who led by example through acts of kindness in providing free tuition, Christopher ignited a love for educating and teaching others – particularly to underprivileged students.
Circumstances that revolved around the MCO and experiencing job loss didn’t hinder Cheong from launching The White Flag Initiative in August 2021, where free tuition is offered to underserved SPM students.
For Cheong, this was his leap into the education industry. He was instantly exposed to the challenges of teaching students from different backgrounds in a non-traditional classroom setting – via online platforms. Cheong had to use all his creativity to keep students attentive and learning through the tuition sessions.
Trailblazer For Aspiring Teachers
Today, he has broken the barriers of a typical educator. Cheong surpassed the odds of undergoing teaching courses to be a qualified teacher. Within the span of a few months, The White Flag Initiative has been recognised, and students have responded to the free classes provided.
Slowly but surely, the organisation powers through social media and online channels to reach students. For instance, class schedules are found on the Instagram page while classes are conducted via Discord.
For the time being, he focuses on equipping students for SPM examinations. While realising the importance of education, Cheong has not neglected mental health which is prudent especially since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. The American College Health Association found that students experiencing mental distress performed poorly in terms of education.
The initiative has also included numerous methods which set them apart. These involve memes, FIFA player cards, game and movie nights. The focus on stress-free environments includes mental health awareness campaigns. Such efforts highlight effective methods which contribute substantially to education.
I am also working on ways to help my students in the initiative on their health issues as well as to find ways to provide more appreciation to our tutors who spend their time and effort on this initiative. – Christopher Cheong
What’s In Store For 2022?
In the coming year, The White Flag Initiative aims to transition into a full-fledged NGO while striving to provide quality education to the underprivileged.
2022 will be an exciting and a make or break year for the initiative. Would we be able to continue or would we crumble under the weight of expectations? We will be slowly transforming into a proper NGO and will look into many other ways to improve our classroom experience as well as the quality of our classes. – Christopher Cheong
Support The White Flag Initiative
Built on the hard work of Cheong and some other teachers and their collective effort to put together personal funds, this initiative is extending the opportunity for the public to be part of their cause. They are open to donations to help them stay afloat and grow.
Monetary donations are much appreciated as we have been running this organisation on nothing but our own expenses, even RM10 can go a long way in helping this organisation. – Christopher Cheong
Aside from this, the 22-year-old encourages students to be more expressive. He also points out that words of encouragement have an impact on the team as tutors perceive students as their younger siblings.
Transitioning To A Full Time Educator
Coming from a completely different background in culinary arts , Cheong is determined to put in the work as he remains in the education sector. Although diving into the education field is new, he is a “firm believer that one should spend all their efforts in doing something, or don’t do it at all”.
Teaching has been a joy and a new path that I have ventured into, and I am enjoying it. – Christopher Cheong
What’s heartwarming is that the organisation is keen on providing free education to all those in need. The goal is to revolutionise the local education system one step at a time. The White Flag initiative has not only removed barriers in terms of teaching methods but has gotten rid of traditional stereotypes. This ensures a fair chance of education for everyone, rich or poor.
The Motivating Force
What keeps the young lad going are the smiles on his students’ faces.
Nothing feels better when students message me, telling me that they performed well in their exams because of a certain class, or that they found a new love in their subjects. Personally, nothing else in the world can compare, except for a nice hot slice of pizza I guess. – Christopher Cheong
Sign up here if you are a Form 4 or 5 students who could benefit from the White Flag Initiative’s free tuition classes. Subjects covered include English, Bahasa Malaysia, chemistry, history, biology, science, mathematics, additional mathematics, economics, physics, and accounting.
Click here to support The White Flag Initiative on Instagram!
Education Changemakers In Action:
It is without a doubt that education opens doors of opportunities. Here are a few organisations that play a part in children’s education :
- Teach for Malaysia is a not-for-profit organisation on a mission to give all children in Malaysia the opportunity to attain an excellent education. Founded in 2010, Teach For Malaysia is a proud member of the Global Education Network, Teach For All, a collective of education organisations in over 50 countries worldwide.
2. Yayasan Hasanah was born as an independent grant-making foundation on 1 July 2015, with the aim of creating a greater impact that complements Khazanah’s efforts of developing Malaysia into a globally competitive nation. They contribute to 15 of the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), through solutions that empower communities, encourage social inclusivity, and improve the environment. This includes eradicating child poverty through education to ensure the preservation of our majestic forests and celebrating the arts and our unique cultural heritage.
3. ElShaddai Centre Berhad (ElShaddai) was set up in 2008 as a Christian-based humanitarian NGO with a vision to reach out to the displaced and marginalized community of various nationalities through compassion services and social work. Our current work involves the refugee, asylum-seeker and other immigrant communities in Malaysia. We are working with people from Myanmar, Cambodia, Indonesia and 15 other countries.
4. Dignity aims to break the cycle of poverty through the provision of quality education for children aged 2 – 18 years. Utilizing a combination of the renowned Montessori philosophy and a uniquely Dignity learner-centred approach that includes soft skills and vocational skills education, offer the best education for the underprivileged there is to be had.
Explore our Sources :
- MalayMail. (2021). Johor man offering free SPM online tuition with friends for anyone in need, inspired by late friend’s kindness. Link.
- World of Buzz. (2021). Integrating Memes In Teaching: The White Flag Initiative Provides Free Tuition To All SPM Students. Link.
- SSM School. (2018). Importance of Mental Health among Students. Link.
- Free Malaysia Today. (2021). Hospitality grad offers free tuition classes online. Link.
- The White Flag Initiative. (2021). Shaping Education, One Student at a Time. Link.
Update: As of 1 August 2022, The White Flag movement is no longer in operation due to limited engagement.