Mentoring and book clubs boost learners’ confidence

August 24, 2023 2:49 pm

Girls’ Education South Sudan (GESS) runs mentoring clubs and book clubs in over 200 schools across South Sudan. Mentoring and book clubs allow schoolchildren to have a safe space to discuss issues that affect them and get guidance from the GESS Mentoring Assistants.

Mentoring Assistants hail from the local communities where the schools are located. They moderate the mentoring and book club activities.

For the past two weeks, GESS’s Mentoring Coordinator, Savia Juan, spent time in the Eastern Equatoria State counties of Kapoeta and Budi to support the Mentoring Assistants in implementing their activities.

Guided by the Mentoring Assistants, the mentoring and book clubs happen in primary and secondary schools. During the mentoring sessions members of the clubs discuss sensitive topics such as peer influence, pregnancy, menstruation, addictive substances, gender-based violence, disability, freely with their peers. During the sessions mentees also discuss their ambitions and plans for the future as well as their interests and hobbies.

Savia supported the Mentoring Assistants in Eastern Equatoria to approach their activities in a creative and fun way, report these activities effectively and on time and boosted their confidence to ask for support when they need it.

She also supported the Mentoring Assistants in Eastern Equatoria to fill referral forms for learners with disabilities and neglected tropical diseases who need assistive devices or extra support. In Eastern Equatoria, in schools with mentoring programme, there are over 100 learners identified as having a disability. Through the referral forms, GESS establishes pathways of support for these learners and connects them with organisations that may assist in further assessments and distribution of assistive devices such as wheelchairs, crutches, while canes, hearing devices, etc. :

“Because of Savia’s visit, I can now do my work better because I have learnt to plan better. The support in terms of writing reports is what I needed. I am happy now I know better how to write my reports” said Christine, the Mentoring Assistant in Kapoeta North.

Through the mentoring and book clubs, GESS builds learners’ confidence, so that they feel comfortable to speak up and seek help when they need to. Learners freely discuss sensitive topics, share experiences, and support each other.

“For me, these book and mentoring clubs are very important. I can see that learners speak freely when they are together and discussing topics such as menstruation. They are free to speak and share their experiences,” Christine added.

During the activities mentees also gain practical skills, for example how to make their own reusable sanitary pads or how to say no when they feel uncomfortable in certain situations. Both girls and boys are welcome in the mentoring and book clubs.

During the book clubs, various articles from GESS’ Teens ta Guwa magazine are discussed, and through these discussions, teens have the opportunity to think through the challenges they face and approaches they may take to resolve these challenges.

GESS continues to run mentoring and book clubs in schools to help school children build confidence and face challenges they experience during their adolescence.

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