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Mentoring

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Students peer mentoring

BRAC began its journey in the field of secondary education in 2001 with PACE (post primary basic and continuing education) as a supplement to the government‘s effort to meet the target plan for secondary school students. At first, training was provided to subject-based teachers (math, science and English).

Later, it was observed that some major barriers stand at the learning environment in schools. These are:

  • Only training teachers is not sufficient to ensure an effective learning environment
  • Students’ attendance, participation in classroom and internal examinations were not satisfactory
  • Students feel shy to ask questions in classroom and consult teachers
  • Students have limited scope in schools to engage in co-curricular activities

Addressing all these problems and to create a healthier learning environment in rural secondary schools, BRAC introduced students’ peer mentoring programme in 2006. The programme has opened an enormous opportunity for students from underprivileged groups who had little scope to learn and grow.

Peer mentoring and mentors

The peer mentoring programme aims to create and develop self-esteem, perceptiveness, self-discipline, attentiveness, partnership, sharing, leadership, imagination, and creativity among students of secondary schools. In this programme, some academically advanced and enthusiastic students are provided with proper advice, support and training to become mentors. Mentors serve as a resource and helping hand for other students.  It is found that students face various difficulties in their adolescence Advice and a listening ear from peers can be greatly helpful at this stage. Through the ‘peer approach method’, the good students act as mentors and assist students who may need extra attention or help with academic as well as personal issues. Each mentor works with a group of 7-10 fellow classmates. They help increase attendance, enhance moral values, and ensure participation in internal exams and co-curricular activities. Peer mentoring programme is running successfully in 3,640 secondary schools with 218,400 (57 per cent female) existing mentors and 99,460 (51 per cent female) graduate mentors.

 

Activities under mentoring programme

Mentor selection and group formation

Usually the good students in terms of learning performance are considered for being mentors. A primary list of students is prepared by the class teacher. Talent, regular attendance, attentiveness, interest in study, motivation capability, helping tendency, sharing tendency, etc. are considered by the teachers in preparing the primary list. After that, the selected students receive mentor training. The mentor group formation takes place after the training. The groups are formed by the teachers; however, students’ consent is also considered. All the students of the class are divided into small groups consisting of 7-10 students. Mentors will sit with all their group members every day. Every week the groups are required to sit in the classroom through sit changing.

Subject-based leader

Each group must have academic leaders or subject-based leader on specific subjects like math, science, English etc. Subject-based leaders should be selected according to their academic record; student obtaining the highest marks in respective subjects in the last two or three examswill be a subject leader. The leader will assist mentors in discussion in group work. A group is formed of both strong and weaker students. The subject leader will solve the problems of the group members, while mentor will help the leader. Everyone will solve problems in their exercise books. Problem solving leadership will be rotated accordingly for the subjects with the mentor helping them.

 

Mentoring training

In order to prepare students and teachers to carry out objectives of the mentoring programme, a five-day residential training is conducted by trained trainers at BRAC Learning Centre (BLC). Total of 35 students with at least 50 per cent girls of classes 6-9 and one teacher from each school receive this training. The training contains sessions on values education, leadership, peer support/work, classroom participation, mentoring, school environment (enabling atmosphere; gardening; cleanliness), co-curricular activities such as debate, creative writing and publishing wall magazine, sports, weekly meeting etc. After completing the training successfully, the mentors form small groups of seven to 10 fellow classmates and orient group members on the concept and activities of mentoring.

Activities

Academic activities
Mentor has the responsibility to ensure and encourage academic activities, group wise sitting with other group members and developing and helping the students in education at classroom

Participation in assembly
Mentor ensures that all members attend the assembly regularly on time

School attendance
Mentor ensures that all members are present in classroom every day and also try to find out the causes in case of absences

Active participation in classroom
Mentor ensures that all the group members participate actively and pay attention in the classroom

Mentor also tries to connect the members to the topic, make them wonder why, get them to think, and motivate them to make connections with the content

Participation in all examinations
Mentor also focuses on group member’s participation in examination, tries to find out whether any member is facing difficulty in paying exam fee and inform teacher about the problem

Campus and classroom cleanliness
Mentor has always given focus on increasing student’s contribution to maintain the cleanliness and beautiful appearance of campus and classroom

Group work
Group discussion and work can solve any problem and ensure any type of work easily

This also increases the view of working with other members in group and eliminate subject-based difficulties of the students


Academic activities

Monthly meeting
Monthly meeting is the most important part of the activity held once a month

In the meeting, the mentors check the attendance, group members’ problems in different subjects as well as their personal problems with the presence of LRP

They also perform co-curricular activities such as music, recitation of poems and discuss about school discipline, cleanliness, etc

Co-curricular activities
Enhancing emotional, physical, spiritual and moral development is complemented and supplemented by co-curricular activities

wall magazine

Sports and Games

Annual magazine

Recitation, role play and dance

Debate

Gardening

Art and craft

Creative corner

Drawing

Creative writing

Music and singing

Celebrating national days


Wall magazine

All mentors along with their group members publish two to threewall magazines displaying creative writing and art work.

Mentor bulletin
Groups and their mentors publish mentor bulletin which includes current news, updates, achievements and future plans.

Annual magazine
At the end every year, an annual magazine is published with the writing, drawing and other student activities.

Creative writing
Students learn to write poems, short stories and rhymes. This creative activity helps in enhancing independent thinking and self-expression.

Debate

  • Mentors along with students arrange debates in classrooms, in which two opposing teams propose or oppose a given proposition or motion in a series of speeches imitating the British parliamentary system.
  • It is governed by a set of rules, which permit interruptions orpoints of information by the opposition. A panel of judges judge the debate and a moderator facilitatesit.
  • Through this activity students learn debating practically. They organise debate competitions regularly in their schools
  • Debating helps students to speak logically, think critically and to present counter argument                
  • By practicing debate, students develop self-confidence, focus and time management skills
  • In addition, it helps them to develop a greater tolerance towards contrary points of view and expand their knowledge on different subjects

 

Sports and games
Mentors inspire their group members to take part in various sports and games.

Drawing

  • Drawing is one of the oldest forms of human expressions, with evidence for its existence preceding that of written communication
  • In mentoring training, mentors are taught several ways and tricks for drawing
  • Mentors along with their group members decorate their classrooms and campus with their own work of art

Art andcraft
Mentors and students make arts and craft using paper, cloth, colours etcThis activity helps students to develop their skills through cutting, pasting and assembling materials

Music and singing

  • Mentors learn and practice songs from mentoring guide regularly
  • They also participate with other members in different programmes and competitions at school

Recitation, role playand dance

  • Mentors also learn and practice recitation, role play and dancing with the help of LRP
  • Putting up performances for others is also a great way to help them build confidence and learn to be comfortable speaking in front of an audience.

 

Performance of the mentors

Theatre in school

  • Mentors organise and performed school theatres on social and educational issues
  • Mentors were trained on theatre by LRPs from local theatre group, Udichi, District Shilpakala Academy and Bangladesh Shishu Academy
  • The initiative drew great attention as different social issues were enacted, helping raise social awarenessamong the youth
  • From January to June 2014, mentors organised and performed at school theatres in 25 schools with 200 students (26.5 per cent girls) on various social and educational issues.

 

Celebrating national days

Mentors also arrange l events to observe national and international days like International Mother Language day, Independence day, Women’s Day and so on with the help of SMC and LRP.

 

Classroom decoration

After receiving training, mentors along with active participation from students, prepare materials for classroom decoration.

 

Creative corner

  • Creative corner is another important tool of classroom decoration where children’s innovative and creative initiatives are displayed
  • It is a platform to share ideas stimulating others to think creatively
  • A total of 2,365 schools have creative corner  

 

Mentor fair

With a sense of togetherness, sharing and exchanging, mentors arrange mentor fair every year

Mentors from different schools from the same area can participate in the mentor fair and can organise activities like wall magazine exhibition, cultural competition, discussion events and so on

 

Local resource person

To make the ’Peer Mentoring’ more effective and dynamic, 760 (66 per cent female) local resource persons (LRP) have been working with great dedication. An LRP has been selected during the reporting period by a competitive interview conducted by a panel of experts. They received a five-day mentoring ToT (training of trainers). LRP includes successful mentor teacher, college teacher, college/university student, active member of debating club/cultural club etc who are efficient, energetic, young and proactive in various cultural activities. Some ex- chhatrabandhu and ex-BEP teachers are also working as LRPs. Being local, the LRPs can better understand their communities and deliver the services accordingly.

 

Responsibilities of the LRPs

  • Conducting six-days student mentoring training
  • Facilitating day-long refresher on mentoring issues with mentors in respective schools
  • Assisting half day mentoring orientation with school teachers, head master, SMC members
  • Follow up mentoring activities
  • Organising awareness raising meetings on urgent issues (ie, sexual harassment, eve teasing, early marriage) with teachers and students
  • The programme found wide acceptance amongst the LRPs.

 

Swapno bikash – A forum for graduate mentors

Since its commencement in 2006, about 75,000 (45 per cent girls) mentors have passed SSC exams after completing school. To keep track of their progress, a forum named graduate mentors’ forum (GMF) was formed. Through this forum graduate mentors will be linked with their former institutions and will be involved in different activities with the existing mentors. During the reporting period, 100 graduate mentors and BRAC graduates are trained as local resource persons (LRP) to conduct basic mentoring training. They also play active role to raise their voice against dowry, early marriage and other social injustices. They work as ambassadors for children vaccination, camping for mosquito-free lakes and ponds, kitchen plantations and so on. Some graduate mentors have already published novels, story books and poems. Some are radio and TV artistes. 755 graduate mentors (58 per cent female) are currently giving free service to BRAC’s chhatrabandhu programme. As per BRAC monitoring department’s report (April-June 2014) 91 per cent of the mentors are active members of MCLC (multipurpose community learning centre). A mentor tracking study by BEP monitoring unit shows that the SSC and HSC pass rate among mentors is 100 per cent. The dropout rate after SSC for non-BRAC graduate is 8.7 per cent while BRAC graduate dropout rate is 4.3 per cent (6.1 per cent for girls).

 

Bitarka bikash

Since 2007 BRAC has been arranging debate competition for secondary school students while teachers debate started in the year 2011 (shown in the table below). The final round of debate competition in the national level is held after completing the series of inter-school, inter-sub-district, inter-district, inter-division and semi-final rounds. as the competition is called bitarka bikash with the motto ‘juktir alo e khuji manush er mukti’ (exploring freedom in the light of logic).

Bitarka bikash gives participants the chance to build presentation, communication and speaking skills.

 

 

Year

Number of mentoring schools

Student debate

Teacher debate

Number of schools

Debaters

Number of schools

Debaters

2006

100

 

 

 

 

2007

250

100

500

 

 

2008

500

150

750

 

 

2009

750

200

1000

 

 

2010

1000

 

 

 

 

2011

1888

575

2875

300

1500

2012

2072

8000

40000

500

2500

2013

2372

2580

12800

2560

12800

2014

3640

2000

72000

2000

36000

2015

4000

2000

10000

2000

10000

Total

 

 

(70% female)

 

(30% female)

 

English debate

After a huge succession and national recognition of Bitarka Bikash, a debate in English, was started in 2015 under peer mentoring. It has already been initiated in 32 schools with seven BRAC secondary schools in order to take the debate scheme of mentoring programme to an advanced level.

English language camp

English language camp is a unique initiative of the peer mentoring programme. It focuses on enhancing on the mentor’s capacity in practicing English in real life situations. The piloting of the three-day camping programme was arranged in Mirjapur, Tangail with 60 mentors (11 girls) from three schools in 2014. In this camping, students immersed themselves in interactive activities like story writing, role play, extempore speech etc. These activities helped the students to overcome the fear and shyness of speaking English in a comfortable environment. They are also expected to enhance their ability to handle situations outside their comfort zones. The participants formed English clubs in their own schools where they introduced the activities among their peers. Till now, 18 sector specialists and 60 local resource persons of mentoring team have received TOT on English language camp.

Psychosocial counseling

The mentoring programme provides counseling support to learners of secondary education through peer mentors. A five-day training is given to mentors on psychosocial and soft skills such as self-control, negotiation, self-confidence, addiction, relationship skills, communication, emotional intelligence, crisis and stress management. Participants also exercise various psychosocial techniques and skills through role play, imagery exercise, group work, mediation and other interactive activities. In 2016, this training will be provided to 17,500 mentors with 500 schools.

Raising awareness on climate and environment

The mentoring programme also initiates activities that build awareness on climate and environment.Schoolgardening: School gardening opens the door to plant-based learning. Gardening urges students to observe, discover and care for the environment. Mentors actively participate in gardening inside the school premises. Each school in every district has its own school garden.

Kitchen gardening: Mentors conduct kitchen gardening around their houses. These gardens provide an added sourceof earning for their families while alsohelping to maintain basic nutrition.

Tree plantation: Every month mentors arrange a meeting to share ideas on ways to engage communities in taking care of their environment. Planting trees is one such endeavour. Mentors plant at least one tree around their houses.

Preparedness for natural disaster: Mentors from the southern districts of Bangladesh help to grow self-defensive tactics in the aftermath of a disaster. Local resource persons (LRP) are responsible to teach and build awareness on facing natural calamities among mentors and students.

Rally: To build disaster awareness, graduates, mentors and existing mentors arrange rallies and tree plantation drives in the district level.

 

Materials

Training posters

  • Training posters are used to make mentoring training more effective. Areas described in the posters are:
  • Objectives and purpose of mentoring training
  • Objectives of mentoring activities
  • What we do
  • Qualities of a responsible student
  • Creative corner

 

Mentoring notebook

Each mentor is given two mentoring notebooks- one that is used during training and the other during monthly meetings.

Mentoring badge

Each mentor is given a mentoring badge identifying them of their responsibilities.

Mentoring guide

This is a complete handbook outlining mentoring activities, qualities of a good mentor (eg, values, education, leadership, responsibilities), work plan and so on

Each mentor is given one mentoring guide on the first day of training.

Festoons

For the mentoring activities, 18 festoons are used; each school receives 36 festoons to facilitate and encourage students to take part in mentoring activities.

Overseas peer mentoring programme

Peer mentoring has been replicated in BRAC Tanzania and Afganistan. It is seen to improve the academic environment as students feel more encouraged to participate as learners.

 

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