Every Monday, after a long day of college, Fardowsa Ahmed logged on to her computer to take a night class in GCSE biology. She was exhausted, but she needed the qualification to start her nursing degree in the autumn. In two hours, her teacher covered material that GCSE pupils spend four to five classes on, with no time for questions.
Ahmed quickly found herself struggling to cope, but paying £25 an hour for private tutoring was out of the question.
Then she found the Coronavirus Tutoring Initiative (CTI), a network of 4,000 university student volunteers across the UK who collectively have given up 35,000 hours of their time since the beginning of the pandemic to tutor 2,000 school pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds for free, despite experiencing their own anxieties over missed teaching, financial pressures and Covid outbreaks on campus.
Ahmed was paired with Hasan al-Habib, who is completing his PhD in oncology at the University of Cambridge. Once a week, he logs on to the tutoring platform to teach biology to Ahmed, who before lockdown decamped to a cafe to escape her crowded…