Solid mentorship programme is the engine to the future

Even the finest brains need someone to ‘hold their minds’ into new environments, new challenges, new thinking processes, new attitudes, new cultures. [iStockphoto]

A group of new job recruits met at the Kenyan of School Government last week. They were young, excited, with fire burning in their eyes. All of them had a degree certificate-from IT to communications. They were the crème de crème; the chosen few that just landed a job in a country where jobs are as scarce as saints in hell.

The organisers spared nothing to get the youngsters the best speakers-from university lecturers to Lilian, a human resources guru.

But it was the thirst on the young faces that stuck out-they quickly absorbed every little drop of induction wisdom that was dished out, which, no matter the amount, did not seem to quench their thirst.

This insatiable thirst brought to the fore the need for more mentorship programmes in Kenya; programmes that are deliberately and carefully crafted to link every Kenyan youth-irrespective of their background, education level or class-to a mentor.

By mentor here, we are not talking about those fellows that companies pay ridiculously high salaries for ridiculous titles such ‘internship manager.’

We are talking about anybody, anywhere that is ready and willing to take someone else under their wing and help them fly, for free; no ‘where do you come from? Where did you go to school? Who is your mother? Who is your grandmother? What do I get in return?

We are talking about that street sweeper that is ready to show a young man or woman how to sweep the most hidden corner of the street without raising a cloud of dust.

We are talking about a Mama Mboga who takes in a small boy or girl that dropped out of school at primary, and patiently shows them how to chop sukuma wiki and, eventually, how to run that kiosk at the corner of the estate.

We are talking about top level manager who is ready to show a young village girl that just graduated the ropes to the top without wanting to sleep with her; without asking for a ‘training allowance.”

We are talking about human resource managers who deliberately introduce an aspect of mentoring in the performance contracts for all their staff that reward even the least of their workers that mentor someone within the organisation.

We are talking about a CEO who identifies a cleaner with talent, and deliberately focuses on moving the fellow from cleaning to becoming an office assistant, and thus putting the fellow on the path to becoming CEO.

It is well to want to recruit the finest brains in any trade, business or organisation. But the reality on the ground is that even the finest brains need someone to ‘hold their minds’ into new environments, new challenges, new thinking processes, new attitudes, new cultures.

If education is the key to the future, then a solid mentorship programme is the engine to the future. This is especially so, in a country such as ours, where even securing an internship requires a monster called  ‘experience.’ A country that has some of the finest teachers in the world, but, sadly, a small number of mentors. It is not enough to teach someone-mentor them too.

-Mr Muchiri works for Media Council of Kenya