Education is a broad topic that goes beyond classroom interaction. This is where mentorship comes in as another form of training that imparts life skills to students.
Mentorship is the guidance provided by a mentor who is in most cases an experienced person. It basically involves a relationship in which a more experienced or more knowledgeable person helps to guide a less experienced or less knowledgeable person.
The motive of students being mentored is that such programs connect them with experts who are skilled and knowledgeable about various aspects of life and pass on their ideas, and teachings to the learners about different topics that range from behaviour, hard work, and success, among others. This helps them in making choices that would be helpful now, and in the future.
Casimir Manirareba, a language teacher at Lycee Notre-Dame de Citeaux says, mentorship programs are important for students for different reasons. They promote the culture of collaboration and trust amongst the students, as a mentor is someone who is trusted by the mentees and whose work is successful when they cooperate with their mentees, he says.
He also notes that strong mentorship programs help students develop the confidence, self-esteem and skills they need to be successful in school and in life. Mentoring is widely recognised as contributing to strong and healthy communities.
“Mentorship programs help forge stronger links for students in career and employment programs, where they are able to take full advantage of the working and learning opportunities available in the country,” says Elizabeth Umutoni, a student.
Research supports that school-based mentoring impacts positive outcomes for children and youth including; increased high school completion rates, improved attitudes about staying in school, enhanced academic motivation and achievement, improved social skills and behaviour, better resiliency, strengthened peer, school and family relationships, reduced risk of involvement with drugs and an increased sense of belonging in the school community.
Michael Maniraguha, a lecturer at University of Rwanda - Huye campus Butare, states that mentoring activities promote literacy skills, self-esteem, and social appropriateness and supports strength-based practices that build resiliency.
He stresses that mentorship programs also develop the habit of research and lifelong learning, especially for the mentors for they need to do research in order to enrich their knowledge and skills regularly which leads to continuous learning.
Furthermore, Manirareba explains that mentorship programs increase performance of students as this can facilitate learning since students don’t encounter many problems because they are solved through mentorship.
“Mentorship programs can help in fighting unwanted and early pregnancies and other harmful behaviour among students as they are given a chance to open up about different issues they could be facing, this is where mentors find relevant solutions,” Manirareba says.
Maniraguha explains that through mentorship programs, learners discover and develop their interests and innermost passions for instance; by providing information, guidance, and encouragement, mentors play an important role in nurturing students’ ambitions.
He points out that mentorship allows students to gain perspective and self-reliance in the classroom but most importantly, mentors can connect students with other professionals, internships and jobs opportunities.
Maniraguha states that mentorship is very critical as it helps to acquaint less knowledgeable students with new abilities and talents. It’s then important if it is conducted by a well skilled person more than the students.
According to Manirareba, students should graduate when they are familiar with the external environment and this would be achieved through mentorship, when well conducted, graduates will not face employment challenges because they will have been trained in a work environment before they even start working.
“Along with presenting students to experts and opportunities in their chosen field, through mentorship programs, students are informed with new resources and organisations,” Umutoni says.
She adds, mentors are able to interpret the often devastating job-seeking and interview processes, and offer first-hand advice on how future graduates can stand out to potential employers. In addition, mentors advise students on maintaining career permanency.
Umutoni points out that passing opportunities along from one person to another helps ensure that those living in a community have the ability to maintain and improve it.
Mentors and role models have a chance to create a new relationship and successfully teach learners something new.