Four schools inform Match which pupils are eligible for extra lessons. The schools then look at which student fits best with the pupil. “We want there to be a click, you learn most from someone you like,” says Match Maastricht project leader Jacoline Tanis.
Renée Drijgers, second-year student of Biomedical Sciences, accompanied intermediate preparatory vocational education (VMBO) pupil Fatima. “I was actually looking for a student job,” she says. “When I came across this, I did wonder for a moment as it is not paid, but I knew it would give me so much satisfaction that it wouldn’t matter. I am also gaining experience; I want to become a biology teacher.”
Drijgers helps Fatima with all her subjects. “But in particular Dutch, English, Biology and a subject that is called Humanics, which is a mix of Geography and History.” In principle, it doesn’t really matter if your study is in line with the subjects you are tutoring, says Tanis. “This mainly concerns pupils from the first few years of secondary school. If you have done six years of pre-university education, you will be capable of helping out.”
It is not just about grades, says Tanis. “Although we do see those rise. But we also want pupils to be able to tell their stories. To someone other than a teacher or a parent. That is why all students are given a coaching workshop.”
The talks are the best part, says Drijgers. “Fatima comes from the Language School (a school where newcomers can learn Dutch, ed.). She is still living in an asylum seekers’ centre and she has moved a lot over the past few years. The transition to secondary school was tough for her. We had nice chats, lately she is doing well. I am glad that I can be there for her at times when she needs it. You create a special bond during a year like that, I will never forget it.”
Is there anything else that she hadn’t expected beforehand? “During the interview with Match, she asked questions like ‘what do you do if the pupil keeps forgetting to bring his or her books or can’t be bothered,” says Drijgers. “Fatima was the complete opposite. She continually said: ‘give me more homework’. I had to put the brakes on at times; there are more things than just school, take a break, a 6.5 is good enough.”