HELPING STUDENTS REACH THEIR LIFE POTENTIAL
Our mentorship scheme primarily aims to reduce students dropping out of high school, with little or no qualifications. Alongside this, the scheme aims to develop pupil’s entrepreneurial skills and bring awareness of vocational training opportunities. The hope is to develop knowledgeable individuals, with a mindset ready to tackle the challenges they will face in the job market upon leaving school.
Challenges faced by high school students
In an initial baseline survey completed by the students and teachers at two high schools in Nairobi, the students identified peer pressure, involvement with drugs, early pregnancy and lack of money for school fees as the main challenges they faced. Children often drop out without any qualifications or knowledge of how to get a job. In the survey taken by the students; only 36% knew where to look for careers advice if they needed it. In addition, only 38% knew where to look for advice on applying to university or technical college.
Children who drop out of school early with no qualifications may join gangs and turn to drugs and crime as a result. The current high school drop out rate may highlight that students do not see the benefits in remaining in education in terms of job and earning prospects.
Schools have in place guidance counsellors. However, research has found that these aren’t as effective as they could be due to the difference in ages between pupils and counsellor. This reduces the likelihood of the counsellor relating to the student. Additionally, due to the link between counsellors and school disciplinary structures, pupils struggling with drug or alcohol abuse fear being punished and do not wish to speak up about their problems.
The mentorship scheme’s primary aim is to reduce high school drop out rates of students, alongside developing the pupil’s entrepreneurial skills and bringing an awareness of vocational training opportunities.
We have selected and trained nearly 50 mentors from the University of Nairobi and Kenyatta University. All of these students applied and underwent 4 days of training, learning mentoring skills, what issues mentees may be facing and other important aspects such as safeguarding. By utilising university student mentors who will act as enthusiastic and able role models, their similar age will mean that they are easily relatable to the mentees. Their recent experience of high school education also means that the mentors themselves will be familiar with some of the issues faced by mentees.
Each mentor has two mentees. This enables a strong relationship to form and for both mentee and mentor to get to know each other well. Over the course of the school year, there are weekly 1.5 hour sessions taking place in the high school. Mentors travel alongside the Kite Nairobi committee to the schools. The mentors have the term’s session plans sent out to them prior, so they are able to adequately prepare and plan for the session that day.
The scheme is based on 3 different sessions. After performing significant research into the content of the mentorship scheme, it has been shown that having variety in a mentoring programme is advantageous. Some of these mentees may be struggling in school and have become disillusioned, viewing school as pointless or tedious. Therefore, the mentorship scheme must not be another lesson in the school day. Instead it must be exciting, engaging and a positive break that enables the mentees to be excited about learning again. Having variety means the scheme remains stimulating over time, and hopefully resulting in the mentees sticking with the programme.
The three types of sessions in the mentorship scheme are:
This is where there is only the mentor and mentee in the session. This session gives mentees the chance to share their personal concerns and challenges with their mentor in confidence. Mentors will follow a broad session plan with two or three activities in it. These session focuses range from academic strengths and communication skills to goal setting and career awareness. Additionally, mentors will be able to provide mentees with individual guidance and attention that is often lacking from difficult home background and large classroom environments. The mentors and mentees will work together towards mutually agreed goals, monitoring progress through these one on one sessions.
Group sessions will happen every other week. All the mentees will work together as one large group or smaller sub groups with the mentees. These sessions will include a long term initiative such as a play or a showcase, peer to peer mentoring, skills building and inspire sessions. Group and peer work is hugely important for the mentees. A common reason for dropping out or falling behind at school is due to falling into the wrong peer group with peers leading one another astray. These group sessions will enable positive peer-to-peer relationships to form. It is hoped that mentees will develop the skills needed to help their friends in a peer-to-peer mentoring form.
These special activity sessions will take place once a term. Research has found that incorporating occasional special activities can boost effectiveness. These fun activities will be ones that mentees are unlikely to have experienced before, that will be both exciting and engaging. Examples include a visit to Nairobi National park, the conference centre or an activity such as mountain biking. These activities have the possibility of functioning as a reward, will be a positive break away from their usual activities and enable mentees to learn more about themselves and develop their skills.
01/2019 Launch of the mentorship scheme
12/2018 Selection of mentors and 4-day training session for mentors
10/2018 Completion of baseline surveys by students and teachers to prepare M&E
01/2018 Initial survey conducted by Charles (Kite Nairobi)