Every first year in university deserves a mentor to assist them with their academic work and give them a start – especially at the beginning of the year. A lot of the time students have to stand in long queues while processing last minute paper work, they would get lost as they move from office to office and yet still have to get to lectures and might even get left behind in their work. That is where mentors come in to assist.
In South Africa a lot of schools also have an education system that doesn’t prepare most students for university. In high school students have teachers who spoon feed them the whole time whereas at university they will get lectures and lecturers, but they have to do a chunk of the work by themselves and lecturers just work as facilitators as it would be getting discussed in class after readings would or should have been done for homework. Many students aren’t used to this and as a result fail to do the readings properly or end up not doing them at all expecting the lecturer to spoon-feed like the high school teacher did.
When I was in first year I was mentored and now, in second year, I have been chosen as one of the academic mentors by the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT). This is a method of getting students to assist their peers in first year. They pick students with a proven academic track record from the previous year. The students being asked to do this task would pick their own subjects of strength and focus on those, but it’s clear that we will learn a lot from the first years who have been selected and they will not just be mentees as my classmate Robinson Nqola explained, “They have information that I did not know.”
We met the first years recently and they seem eager and keen to learn as most first years usually are. We just hope the spirit doesn’t disappear. After exchanging ideas with them the job of planning contact sessions will then start.
TUT first year journalism student is excited to have been excepted by the university as Higher Education Minister, Dr Blade Nzimande, explains that university space is limited with only a capacity of 180 000 new entrants a year.
“Education is life itself and I am looking forward to learn new things this year,” says Matsembe. She is now looking forward to meeting her other mentors.
Education student at the university, Sibusiso Nkosi, says his senior peers played a crucial role in his academic success when he was a freshman. “They were good people who were always there to offer support. During the exams I did not experience difficulty because I studied and gained a lot from my mentors.”
Mentor Ofentse Ramatsetse is optimistic about his role in the programme. “It is going to be an interesting experience because we will get a chance to recollect what we studied in the previous year and share with the first years. We will ensure that all first years yield positive results out of this mentorship programme.”