An initiative, started last year by Supreme Counselling for Personal Development, aimed at mentoring students in secondary schools, has been endorsed by the Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development, and will continue in the next school year, 2012-2013.
The Supreme Mentoring Programme, which is now seeking mentors from across the island, has been described by the Education Ministry as a project whose underlying philosophy is "in keeping with the Ministry’s model of working hand-in-hand with non-governmental organisations to provide much needed support services to our students-at-risk".
Last year, the Ministry praised the charitable organisation "for its continued efforts in making a difference in the lives of students" and stated that "cursory monitoring of some of the schools involved in the initialisation of the project has revealed that the schools have been benefitting from the programme".
The Supreme Mentoring Programme commenced last August in four secondary schools: Coleridge and Parry; St. James Secondary, Princess Margaret and Parkinson Memorial Secondary, and received response from over 80 students and an equal number of mentors.
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Supreme Counselling for Personal Development, Shawn Clarke, in providing the rationale behind the project, said it aimed to develop positive work attitudes among students and assist them with homework and special assignments/projects.
Adding that mentors would allow mentees to accompany them to social events, Mr. Clarke pointed out that this was an invaluable way to hone skills, specifically etiquette required on different occasions. "Mentors are basically there to help the mentees with their social development. Sometimes, although parents or siblings are present in their lives, we find children need that extra support and they tend to take the mentor into their confidence; sharing personal matters and seeking advice which normally they wouldn’t go to family members about," he stressed.
Elaborating on the response to the programme within the four schools, the CEO said: "The children actually accepted the mentorship programme with open arms and formed a bond with mentors who were willing participants. We requested about eight hours a month with each mentee.?? This turned out to be eight hours a week and in some cases eight hours a day, as the students and their mentors were constantly meeting, and also communicating on the telephone.
With the project set to continue within the four secondary schools, and student involvement likely to increase to nearly 140, Mr. Clarke is again appealing for additional mentors. Emphasising that a mentor could come from any strata of society, once they had "a pretty solid foundation", he said:?? "We are looking for persons who would have the time to work with our young people; and who see this as an undertaking which they must approach with serious commitment. He/she should be prepared to help a child to develop and not cause any further deterioration in their work.
"Mentors help students acquire confidence, new skills, knowledge and experiences. They also provide opportunities to broaden views, develop perspectives and investigate pathways to future goals, so the student can achieve his/her full potential."
It was further pointed out that mentoring was a great way to help make a difference in the life of someone and was the voluntary sharing of time and energy.?? "Be a mentor, touch a life. Sometimes all a young person needs is a little guidance. Help a young person realise doors can be opened; that opportunities are not just for others, and demonstrate that there is a place for all in our society," Mr. Clarke stressed.
Individuals who are eventually accepted as mentors for the programme will have to fill out a series of forms and undergo training. Additionally, the necessary research and background checks will be done to assure the Ministry of the suitability of mentors to work with the students. Personnel from the Ministry of Education, in association with
Supreme Counselling for Personal Development, will also conduct relevant training for mentors that will include, among other things, a session on Child Abuse and Important Do’s and Don’ts.
The deadline for indicating an interest in the mentorship programme is Wednesday, July 25.
Persons seeking further information on The Supreme Mentoring Programme should contact Supreme Counselling for Personal Development at 228-9769 or 828-5575, or the Senior Education Officer (Secondary Schools), Fernando Carter; or Education Officer (Secondary), Undine Shorey at the Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development at 430-2759 and 430-2756 respectively.