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Important tips to read before starting the mentorship program

1. What is expected of me?

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  • To take your mentee/s on an outing at least once a month (if you don’t have much time just bring a picnic basket; there are a few tables outside in the garden at St Mary’s, next to the visitors parking or if you walk down to the sport fields, a classroom is also available at the bottom of the visitors parking).​

  • To encourage them to

    • Believe in themselves

    • Have a vision for their future

    • Improve their school marks and 

    • Maintain a good attendance record at the St Mary’s classes  

  • To help improve their communication and research skills using the internet.  

  • Some mentors do help their mentees with school work or pay a tutor after classes (a student who often teaches small groups of 4 learners) but it is up to you, as it is not the primary purpose of this programme.​

I got involved somewhat skeptical about the limited impact my contribution could have. From my first meeting with Primrose, a curious teenager, cultivated and passionate about the cause of women, I changed my mind. Through our discussions and outings, Primrose made me discover a new culture, opened my eyes to the reality of his daily life, amazed me by his resilience and will. She reminded me that every gesture, every attention can make a difference. I do not doubt that Primrose will accomplish great things in its future thanks to the support received from Sizanani!  - mentor

  • Starting tips:

    • Grade 10 –  Focus on building a good relationship with your mentee.

    • Grade 11 – Help them with career guidance, exploring their passions and talents, checking which marks they need to improve to qualify for what they want to study, 

    • Grade 12 – Help with university applications, NSFAS (government bursary), National Benchmark Tests (NBTs). Grade 12s are often less available because they have a lot of extra tuition on Saturdays and need more time to study. 

According to the mentees, their mentors help them mostly with career guidance to communicate better and improve their marks. Mentors also helped them discover new things (82%), boost self-confidence and believe in themselves (45%).


​NB! The mentorship programme is not meant to help your mentee/s with any financial aid! It may create more problems than it solves. 

2. How should I choose my mentee? 

  • Learners are asked to write some basic information about themselves and write a motivational letter explaining why they would like a mentor. Priority is given to learners who show commitment to their studies or who need more support than others (orphans, for instance). 

  • A group of learners (Grade 9 to 11) will be invited to meet the new mentors at the Saturday inductions at St Mary’s. Mentors will have time to talk to a few learners and, if they wish, choose their mentee/s.

Should I select one or more mentees?

  • New mentors can choose one or two mentees (Grade 10 or 11) 

  • Some mentors choose two mentees, as they might emulate each other. You also have greater chances to find a learner with whom you can build a great relationship. If you get two mentees, it is better if they are both in the same grade. Also, it is good to sometimes see the mentees separately to have a chance to talk about more personal issues. 

  • Others found it too time consuming to give enough attention to two teenagers, who might also develop feelings of jealousy, especially if one of them feels that you are closer to the other. Having only one mentee allows for deeper conversations and intimacy.

Last year we had 2 mentees , it was easier for them not to be shy with us.

- mentor

I’m scared to tell her about my issues because there is another mentee, which is totally fine, but sometimes, i wish to have a little time alone with my mentor.

-  mentee

3. How do I communicate with my mentee?

  • Check with your mentee if he/she has a cellphone and uses WhatsApp. There is free internet at St Mary’s (SMS‐GUEST – password: saintswifi). 

  • Buying airtime might be an issue. Some learners are only able to access internet when they go to St Mary’s. In that case, during the week, it is better to call them or send a SMS rather than using WhatsApp. If you want to collect them on a Saturday at St Mary’s, give them a few days’ notice and ask them to re‐confirm the appointment on the same morning. 

  • Tell your mentee to send a “callback” or a “missed call”, when they need to speak to you.

  • Ask your mentee to provide an alternative number (a parent, a schoolmate, a friend) in case you can’t reach them.

  • If a learner does not have a cell phone, you can give him/her a spare phone or buy a very cheap phone. But please speak first to the mentee’s guardian/parent, and check if they agree (if not, please contact us). 

  • Most of the learners do not communicate by email, even if they have a smartphone. Some mentees are on Facebook. 

"My mentee changed his numbers all the time. It's been tough to stay in touch." (mentor)

4. When and where should I collect my mentee? 

  • It is easier to pick up your mentee at St Mary’s at 1:50 pm after classes on Saturdays. Call them during the week to make arrangements and tell them to meet you at the top visitors parking lot on Burn Street. 

  • During some school holidays, they have classes during the week at Jabula Centre in Sandringham (address on the year calendar). Before an outing, it is suggested that you bring a picnic or have a quick meal with your mentee/s, as they might be hungry (they only get a sandwich and fruit at 12 pm). 

  • After the outing, drop them close to Alex (on Louis Botha, London Road or by the Gautrain Marlboro station, depending on where they live) or leave them at a taxi rank, with cash for the fare (taxi to Alex + local taxi in Alex).

  • If you would like other mentors and their mentees to join you for an outing, you can post a message on the mentors WhatsApp group.

Note: It is better not to organise outings just before the April, June, September exams and in October (before their final exams).

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