About 45 percent of children in Kenya are living with one or no parents thus lacking support, guidance, and assistance.

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 12 – Former Principal Executive Director at Britam PLC  Stephen Wandera has launched a mentorship programme aimed at equipping teenagers with the necessary skills to be prepared for the future.

Speaking during the launch of the programme , Wandera says the move was necessitated by the need in the market as the majority of teens in Kenya lack adult support and direction leaving them lost and unprepared for the future.

“Nearly half of the Kenyan teens will be ill-prepared for the future dampening the growth of the country that has 12.1 million teens. All children need caring adults in their lives, and although positive, sustained relationships with parents represent a critical resource for children, other adults can provide support that is similar to the support that a parent provides. This support from other adults can either be in addition to that provided by a parent or in place of support that a parent refuses or is unable to give,” said  Wandera.

The programme dubbed Maven Mentorship targets to mentor over a hundred secondary school students every year and is available to teenagers in national and county schools through the medium of school arrangements.

The transformational programme will see mentors engage with mentees one-on-one on a weekly basis for a year.

“Our model is based on volunteers. So far we have over 150 mentors registered and are going through the vetting process,” he explained.

Each mentor will be trained to carry out the mentoring as provided in the curriculum whilst using tools that are developed and continuously renewed for the programme. This includes research-based practices and evidence-based monthly reviews. Training for Mentors is conducted for one week with regular intakes of new mentors.

“We are driven by a dedication expressed through voluntarism but actively supported by partnerships. Our vision of helping the transformation of African youth and their future vis a vis the sheer size of the need means that Outreach is at the very heart of our work. The effectiveness of our outreach programme is intertwined with resources that can be mobilized by our partners and us. We welcome both interest and partnership agreement,” Wandera added.

Speaking during the same event, Apollo Group Chief Executive Ashok Shah says this is a worrying trend, as the teens are the future workforce of the nation.

“There is a need for the country to invest in mentorship for our kids. Our teens need  support  from other adults that can either be in addition to that provided by a parent or in place of support that a parent refuses or is unable to give. For example, other adults can provide financial assistance, enhance children’s learning skills, and help build their self-esteem and self-control. They can also provide emotional support, advice, and guidance about subjects that adolescents might feel uncomfortable, apprehensive, or fearful discussing with their parents,” Shah explained.

A 2019 report published by Transform Nations under the Man Enough programme shows that 45 percent of children in Kenya are living with one or no parents thus lacking support, guidance, and assistance.

In Kenya, teen pregnancy rates remain high, with close to 20 percent of girls aged 15 to 19 either pregnant or already a teen mother. Between January and May 2020, the total number of adolescent pregnancy cases recorded was 151,433, a 40 percent increase over the previous national average.

“Mentoring is a great tool used to shape and guide the youth on their journey to become responsible and productive members of the community. When powered by Voluntarism and targeted at the underprivileged the community can only develop,” added Njeri Njomo Jubilee Health Insurance Chief Executive.

The latest research from Walden University indicates that mentored youth are likely to have fewer absences from school, better attitudes towards school, fewer incidents of hitting others, less drug and alcohol use, more positive attitudes toward their elders and toward helping in general, and improved relationships with their parents.

“Mentoring programs can be seen as formal mechanisms for establishing a positive relationship with at least one caring adult. The foundation of mentoring is the idea that if caring, concerned adults are available to young people, youth will be more likely to become successful adults themselves,” the research states.

According to the African Development Bank report, by 2050 Africa will be home to 38 of the 40 youngest countries in the world, with median populations under 25 years of age. This will result in an estimated 10-12 million new people joining the labor force each year.

With the Fourth Industrial Revolution upon us and the rate at which technology is advancing, it is critical that we have a sufficiently educated and skilled workforce to be able to drive Africa in this direction.

“There is currently a mismatch between industry demands and the education curriculum. Education institutions need to update their curricula to align with the direction in which the world and Africa are going. If we ignore this, our young people will have irrelevant qualifications that the continent will be unable to benefit from,”said SNDBX Chief Executive Officer Joram Mwinamo.