Tuesday, 30 October 2012

2012 Mentors'survey

So far 15 mentors – taking care of 16 mentees - have replied to the survey

Aislinn Laing - Arnaud Zerkovitz  - Lynette Osiemo – Koketso - Yvonne Motsoko - Danielle and Marc Nardini – Carmen Botha – Claire Servoin - Sitha Sahadeo - Simon Hendrie

Standard bank mentors : Brydone Graham, Jonathan Chat , Mangweni, Mfundo,Meshkaya Pillay

  Outings  All the mentors (except.some of the Standard bank mentors, who joined only in June) took their mentees to various outings

Claire  : Get to know each other lunches after Saturday class, Birthday dinner at my place with friends, Fête de la Musique in Melville, Movie, Apartheid museum -Different but all valuable, outings evolved with us getting to know each other.

 Aislinn went with  her mentee to Soweto (she had never been before!), to the   Goodman Gallery after the furore with Jacob Zuma’s Spear painting (this was very valuable as we were able to have a long discussion about the rights and wrongs of the issue, and how it had been covered (my mentee wants to be a journalist).  My mentee  valued just meeting up and talking about life issues – relationships, family, work/life balance, her chosen career – she said that she thought this was one of the most beneficial aspects of the mentoring scheme and this part was really the least labour-intensive! I was also able to introduce my mentee to some new life experiences – eating sushi, rowing a boat, going to an art gallery – and she was really pleased to have these new experiences”

Lynette found that  the meetings over ice-cream/drinks were the most valuable because we had the chance to talk over things. I also shared with her a class on the “7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens” which I had given elsewhere – I think she liked it.

Yvonne took  her mentee to  Zoo Lake, Acro-branch,  we held our meetings at McDonalds.     

Yvonne Motsoko at Acrobranch

Danielle and Marc participated to the group meetings – picnics and the Wits art gallery (good for mentee to be in a new place and enjoy time with mentees and other peers). They also went to Gold reef city: she enjoyed the rides and was a real treat -Lunches: better for actually talking about problems and career choices.                 

Mfundo took his mentee to McDo

Career guidance : Nearly all the mentors helped their mentee

- to go on websites  :  Danielle : “We encouraged them to go on a number of websites at home as well ( cellphone internet)” . Some mentors helped their mentees, who did not have an email address, to set one up.

- to attend open days and career exhibition. Yvonne M. found out that the the most valuable outing was the UJ open day. Carmen Botha took her mentee to  the career day at Sandton Convention and contacted all the hospitals so that her mentee could apply for a Learnership. Claire S. took her mentee to “One day orientation” at BHP Biliton centre,next to the Sci-Bono in Newtown.    Simon Hendrie gave " aptitude and interest questionnaires" to his mentees.            

- to apply to Varsity   : 7 Grade 12  applied to Varsity. 7 mentees got also extra help to apply to Nsfas, 5 to bursaries and 2 to the benmark test.

The marks of 4 mentees were too low to apply to Varsity :“My mentee still does not know what to do. In a way, her marks are low and she changes her mind frequently. She may re-do her matric and re apply”, says Danielle N. “My mentee was asking herself a lot of questions. Her orientation changed several times she was procrastinating her UJ registration, explains Claire S. I had to confront her to understand what she really wanted as she had difficulties to open up.   She wants to look for work after Matric, maybe joined the army, to be independent from her parents. She doubts she will be accepted at UJ as her Grade 11 results were too low.”.

- help with school work : 5 mentors gave “subject and study methods” to their mentees and 2 help them with school work.

Koketso sponsored her mentee (top Grade 12) extra maths & science lessons on a weekly basis, bought her  extra text books for Maths, Science, Life sciences and  Economics,  stationary and a scientific calculator (her calculator got stolen at school)”

- She also  helped her mentee get a holiday job/part time job at Mc Donalds Eastgate

Sitha Sahadeo and other Bombela's mentors  organized a “Career day” for their mentees, "showing them how the trains operated, taking them on a train ride inside the cab of the train as well as into the workshop and yard were the trains are repaired, washed etc".

Sitha and Simon Hendrie   helped set up meetings and contract all the hospitals so that she can apply for a Learnership

-  social life : Jonathan C. also chatted about “relationships and social life”. Mfundo help his mentee to  balance “school/life balance” and “prioritizing"

One mentor "spoke a lot about her family and current living arrangements. She told me that things are a bit difficult for her in terms of time as she is also helping to raise her little sister as her mum passed away not too long ago. She had previously had to drop out of school due to her mother’s passing but she was now ready to get back into it and focus on school".

 The majority of mentors (10 out of 15)  were satisfied of their relationships with their mentees. 2 mentors said they were “excellent”.

Koketso Moloko
Koketso – “She is a balanced child who shows the desire to work hard. Her home situation was not ideal as they risked getting evicted from their apartment during the year because they could not afford to pay rent. Her step father is a police man but he has not been working regular shifts, so their finances have been under strain. Her mom works as a cleaner at a primary school and often has to use her salary to support the family. Things are tough for them, but she is focused on succeeding and escaping poverty. It is admirable.

 But there were some challenges

  2 Grade 12 mentees“ did not really head the advice given, gave limited feedback or direction into any concerns or problems, kind of felt like it was very one sided. .One  of them  did not respond to offers of help, didn’t bring her forms, etc. One Grade 11 mentee did not seem to “really realize the importance of acting now”.

Communication challenges : half of the mentees did not return  calls/sms !
 “My mentee never makes the effort to contact me. His phone is never working well. It is too much of a 1-side relationship. It is a general feeling I had also with  mentees in previousyears.  2 of them that never made the effort. It is disappointing”.

Meshkaya's mentee "was very difficult to reach due to the fact that she didn’t have a phone and I had to get ahold of her on her aunts phone".

 Sitha Sahadeo managed to get a" sponsorship from Bombela Operating Company for a cell phone and airtime(my mentee did not have a cell phone-which made contacting her impossible). She accepted the cell phone but never contacted me.   It was a one sided relationship, very disappointing".

4 mentees ouf of 13 were very shy.
“It has been challenging trying to create a connection with my mentee as he is very shy, but he is a very nice person when he opens up. He is a very switched-on individual and seems to know exactly what he wants to study and where he wants to study. I believe his marks are strong (his parent are teachers) and he has given me no reason to suspect otherwise. I just try and talk to him, ask him questions about himself and supply him with information”. 
 “Getting to know and understand a teenager is difficult especially when he/she is doubting his/her choices. I tried to support my mentee as well as I could. I need to hear from her if this mentorship made a difference. She is at first a shy and reserved person and it is challenging to  understand and support her adequaltely”

2 mentees expected financial assistance,  "as the poverty of her family is a huge challenge

 9 mentors  were too busy to see their mentees as often as they wished. Carmen B “met my objective which was at least once a month – however she did not attend 2”. Jonathan C : “It was a bigger commitment than I thought it would be”. Koketso : “the mentorship program is fulfilling even though it is demanding

Most mentee relied “ heavily on their mentors to look for information”

The majority of the mentors were satisfied with the support they received. Jonathan did not know he could get support from me. He did not know the blog www.beststudentsofalexandra.blogspot

 8 mentors used the blog (some did not know about it) and found useful information 
Lynette O : It is very useful, has a lot of information and can provide much guidance to the mentees if they take time to browse it

Simon H : I just didn’t spend enough time looking at it in detail for the materials I needed. There’s great stuff there
Simon Hendrie and Sipho Ngubo

How can it be improved ?

Danielle and Marco N : career guidance, links and options of you don’t get into varsity all great info and very useful.

Claire S :the blog should be less chronological, more thematic

Mfundo : Mobile version would be better cause internet is mostly reachable via the mobile phone for most of the kids

Meshkaya Pillay :  getting the students to regularly voice their opinions on the blog regarding any other issues they may have, make it interactive in that allow people to give advice to the kids live through the blog.
The mentors, who come from foreign countries, are “struggling to understand the SA education system”. Claire :” We were a bit short of time to do everything at the same time: meet application deadlines, get to know each other and improve our communication”

How can we  improve the program ?
- have more mentors
Meshkaya Pillay : to help a wider group of individuals as there are many willing individuals out there would like to be a mentor

-give priority to  Grade 11 learners

Meshaka Pillay
Meshkaya Pillay : they should not get new mentees in Grade 12 as they need to have an established relationship with someone already who understands them and knows how to help them make that year a successful one.

Claire Servoin : Start mentoring students in grade 10-11 to get to know them and bring appropriate support at the right time.

Koketso Moloko -   by focusing on grade 10 and grade 11 children. If we focus on these grade, we can assist the children with subject choice, career choice and also informing them of the amount of work that they need to put in order to keep up with the work load

Yvonne M. -I think mentors should start the mentoring students from Grade 8(if possible) at this stage the mentor can see which subjects the student is good at. Then when the student is in grade 10, the mentor can guide the student on which subjects to choose going further. The mentor and mentee need to develop a relationship first before the mentoring can start, if they start at Grade 12, there is very little time to know each other”.

 - mentors’selection  and support

-Claire S : Test mentors a little bit more about their motivations, time, abilities (on the very first meeting at St Mary’s that we were warned about the students but not about ourselves, as if mentors did not have to prove anything, whereas I think we actually do: what are my intentions, motivations, am I able to provide what is needed etc)….The commitment is on both sides and I had a feeling that a lot was expected from the students, making the relationship ubalanced

-Claire S : Be thoroughly briefed about the SA education system

-Sitha Sahadeo thinks “ it is a very well run programme. My only comment would be that Mentors must be made aware of the effort they need to put in to communicate with the mentee”.

Claire Servoin
-Claire S :Encourage networking amongst mentors to share difficulties and solutions

Arnaud  :We need a document with all the deadlines

-  mentees’selection

Danielle and Marco N. : “Rather select students with higher marks first, if the marks are too low mentees have unrealistic expectations and maybe use the mentorship program and more of a fun time out”.

- offering other options than Varsity

 Claire S : The emphasis of the program is on Science and Varsity (for obvious reasons i.e. the labour market in SA). Students are clearly briefed and formatted according to these two priorities and sometimes express life/career ambitions contradicting their abilities and wishes. The initial “get to know each other” phase is crucial to discover what the mentees really want and can achieve. In the case of my mentee it was a long journey and I believe that some room should be left for the “out of the box” students.

- communication with parents-          Koketso :We can also have a parent seminar at the beginning of the year to meet the parents and outline our expectations of support, that we need them to support their children in order for their children to achieve. 

-helping them to get holiday job.

Koketso : the other big challenge is, the poverty of the mentees, their home situation is a challenge. We can also have a holiday job seminar to help them get holiday jobs so that they can earn pocket money and learn independence.

-          Outings : more planned outings (Mfundo M)

A few words about  their experience as  mentor
Meshkaya Pillay : The programme  has already done so much for the kids involved. I feel that this not only inspires willing individuals who are keen to take their careers and lives to the next level, but also allows them to access people in business who have the resources they may need to get ahead. Being a Mentor is neither an easy task nor one to do in your spare time, it is a full time job that you need to dedicate time and effort towards. This is because you are responsible for the lives of young children who are ultimately the future leaders of our country. One of the most important things I learnt at Standard Bank is the importance of leadership, to lead by example and how impacting the lives of the future generation means we are able to improve our country. I enjoyed being a Mentor and am constantly inspired by the passion and commitment I see in many of the mentees, It has been a pleasure to help where I can and I look forward to continuing this relationship with Sizanani and St.Mary’s in the future.

Carmen Botha with mentees
Carmen Botha : “Very useful program – and is successful based on people that want to be helped and those that are passionate about people. It depends on the person. For me –growing up in different circumstances – I don’t mean from being privileged because I had to work hard and rely on academic bursaries to study. My parents could not afford to send me to Varsity– so I really know what it means to work hard. I think the biggest thing that I learnt is the independence that the kidshave – in terms of having to sort their transport and a lot of these things out on their own etc. I wish one was in a position to help all, because I am sure there are so many people who just don’t make it because of how difficult it actually is to submit information, apply for learnerships etc. From an education point of view – the government and varsitys should look at how one can simplify the process for those less priviledged – I think a lot of talent is wasted”.

Mfundo Mangweni :  “Good, my mentee is receptive and listens well, he is also committed and dedicated to his studies and we’ve agreed that he needs to pull his family out of the poverty line by working hard. We’ve also discussed the need to focus more on his school work rather than sports and his mother is pushing for that as well”.

Claire Servoin - I am glad I had this opportunity but I regret I could not bring more to my mentee. I still want this relationship to continue, I think I still have things to share with here beyond matric.

Koketso Moloko – This is my third year being involved in the mentorship program and I really enjoy it, I have mentored 4 girls so far and it hasn’t always been a success but I do it because I strongly believe education is the game changer  in one’s life. It can pull you out of poverty and change your reality and also allow you to support your family.

Aislinn Laing  : “I did feel that I could always be doing more or helping my mentee more but we both really enjoyed the things we did together and I do feel that I helped her negotiate the minefield that is applying to university and for grants here. When she found out that she was accepted at two universities of her choice (I coached her for the test for one), I felt a real sense of achievement and I know she was grateful for my help”.  
Yvonne Motsoko : “I really enjoy being part of this program, giving a little of my time to try and encourage another person to succeed is priceless. I was also once a St Mary’s Outreach student and I think the project contributed to where I am today. We didn’t have mentors back then, so with mentorship students have even better chances of making it out there”.

Danielle and Marco Nardini : “I think the program has great potential to make a difference in the lives of the youth. I didn’t realize how little information and direction the students received at school which makes this program even more powerful. Education is the key to poverty alleviation and we cannot rely on the government to affect this”.

Mitchell and Arnaud
Arnaud Zerkovitz : “I have been a part of this program for 3 years now and I do feel it is more than important to assist young students from townships in Alexandra. The economic empowerment of the majority of the population has to go through education. This program is about making these students aware that they can have a better life thanks to studies. Parents of mentees have for the majority not studied or graduated after matric and are not in a position to tell their kids how important it is to go to the university for them to have an interesting job and good living conditions. We mentors have a great mission to accomplish. It is only a pity that mentees are not making more efforts on their side to contact the mentor. They unfortunately take too often things for granted and this, despite their letter requesting mentors”.

Simon Hendrie :
It’s been very fulfilling. Better than last year and I’ll definitely continue!

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