Mentor-Mentee (MnM) Project
After observing the challenges of girls in some areas of Kenya such as limited access to basic education, early pregnancies, female genital mutilation and forced early marriages; and the lure of boys into extremist groups, and criminal and banditry groups, Dorcas initiated the Mentor – Mentee peace advocacy and education empowerment project.
The project pairs undergraduate and graduate students with secondary school students for a negotiated period of time.
It was started in May 2014, scheduled to run for 4 years targeting 10,000 direct beneficiaries and over 500, 000 indirect targets.
Currently the project has mobilized over 600 undergraduate and graduate mentors who are mentoring over 500 secondary schools Mentees.
The chosen schools have the particular profile that they are mixed day secondary schools located in marginalized and conflict prone areas.
MnM is today a Regional Model community based holistic learning platform that meets the needs of marginalized communities
1. Enhance social and academic development of students in target schools by pairing them with a graduate/undergraduate role model
2. Impart target students in secondary schools with life skills for Income Generating Activities
3. Restore the dignity of the girls in target schools through reproductive health education and provision of sanitary towels
4. Train project participants on Alternatives to Violence approaches
5. Create an exchange platform for youth mentors to interact, learn and become engaged citizens in social transformation
6. Create social advocacy on issues such as: the right to universal basic education, Gender Based Violence, Peace and Security
HOW THE OBJECTIVES WERE ACHIEVED
Mentorship gaps were identified through a survey. 560 project Mentees were drawn from average performing schools. 600 graduate and undergraduate mentors were recruited from over 30 universities. Prospective mentors completed an application and screening process. Mentors underwent training on roles and responsibilities. Mentors and Mentees were then paired based on shared interests and career path and met in a project Kick-off Visit involving all stakeholders. 3 minimum mentorship visits organized in the school in a year, each lasting for 5 days. A school visit had one on one sessions, group discussions, training, debates, and team building.
Partnerships and collaboration were developed with key actors. Advocacy on key issues was done in forums with key people in community, government, development organizations and media. Social media advocacy campaign was done through the website and social media platforms. Resources were mobilized through IGAs, Social Media publicity and volunteers.
1. First mentorship project to pair up all students in a secondary school with undergraduate/graduate mentor for the entire period in the school
2. Baseline Survey revealed insights on access to quality equitable education
3. Mentorship Handbook developed that is “free-to-share and free-to-use”
4. Life skills training for Income Generating Activities with inspiring marketing approaches such as targeting community market and local government
5. ICT based platforms used to create advocacy on the project objectives, outcomes and resource mobilization
6. Individual Ambassadors used to advocate for key project issues
7. Mentors introduced ICT training to the target students
8. ICT based correspondence system for Mentors and Mentees
1. 600 mentors mobilized, trained and engaged to mentor 560 Secondary School Students
2. Over 50, 000 indirect project targets reached with the project advocacy issues
3. Awareness created on Reproductive health, GBV, Career Choice, Human Rights, Entrepreneurship, Talent Development
4. 50 Mentees have sat for Certificate of Secondary Education exam this 2015 with 2 getting scholarships in technical training
5. 3 National Project Ambassadors identified to advocate for Universal Basic Education, Social Inclusion and end of FGM
6. Learning materials & sanitary towels worth over $3,000 donated
7. Sanitation block built and Solar lighting project at a school
8. 240 Mentees trained in life skills for Baking, Mat Making, Detergent making and basic ICT
9. Raised academic performance, decrease in school drop-outs, school pregnancies and discipline cases
10. Project model shared and is being rolled out in Malawi
11. Vibrant learning and exchange platform created for project Mentors
The biggest challenge has been a mismatch between limited capacity and resources; dealing with too complex, multiple and large scale problems and the risk of not making a huge difference in a fragile environment of growing expectations.
Resources are mostly needed for the transport, catering and accommodation costs of the mentors. Also for procuring the necessary materials required for the Income Generating Activities and meeting the administrative costs for project coordination.
So far 80% of all resources mobilized were from the individual Mentors and although that promoted the spirit of volunteerism it limited the level of impact.
Already there are requests to implement the project in 5 more Counties and bring the number of direct beneficiaries to over 5,000. Even though the human resource is readily available the logistics are enormous without the necessary finances.
If we acknowledge that the youth are the leaders of today, and mobilize them into youth action groups, we can then provide them with a platform for personal development.
If we can expose the youth to global and local societal challenges connected to poverty, conflict and development issues, we can help them realize their potential as agents of change.
Projects that foster participation of participants from diverse backgrounds help overcome ethnocentric tendencies and every participant wants to feel part of their own destiny.
Organizations are limited by the financial and human resource inputs, as limitations for impact, may be overcome by doing more with little.
It’s easy to engage the Government by positioning project activities as contributing to national policies and strategic plans.
The importance of documenting project outputs and outcomes as part of the learning process and social media is a powerful tool for advocacy, publicity and resource mobilization.