Students need mentorship for relevance in their fields

Friday, April 30th, 2021 00:00 |
University students. Photo/Courtesy

Joshua Ndemenge

Mentorship plays a critical role in a student’s life and those who have access to them throughout their study often end up with an advantage over those who don’t. 

Mentors not only offer support, encouragement, wisdom and teaching, but they also provide knowledge from their experience which students can learn from and apply in studies and professional life afterwards.

Over time, a mentor is able to recognise mentee’s strengths and weaknesses and thereby help them to become a better version of themselves. 

Mentors also serve as important professional networks that learners always find useful after studies. 

In March, the Microsoft’s Africa Development Centre (ADC) announced the kick-off of Season 2 of its Game of Learners (GOL) programme, an initiative aimed at enhancing digital and coding skills among university students in Africa, initially targeting Kenya and Nigeria. 

Run in the form of a hackathon, the programme engages directly with students regardless of the higher education institution they come from.

It is structured in the form of a virtual experience where participants learn computer science technologies and practices hands-on while they build impactful solutions for their community.

The initiative was launched last year with the objective of empowering participants to come up with practical solutions that can address some Africa’s social challenges in health and education.  

I was part of Season 1 last year and with no doubt, the experience was worth every second of our time.

Through GOL, we were not only taken through the technical learning aspects but also through other important soft skills such as the principles of team work and how diverse personalities can come together to solve problems in a relevant way. 

As with most competitions, there must be winners and losers. GOL was however different, and even though there was an overall winning team of the five participating teams, at the end of the day, all the participants were big winners. 

In Season 1, an entry featuring the development of a unique mobile-based medical application emerged the overall winner.

The challenge was to demonstrate the application of technology in developing e-health systems that will enable patients to access normal medical services remotely.

Dubbed RemD (short form for Remote Doctor), the application was developed by five students from Dedan Kimathi University of Technology, Multimedia University, Strathmore and Mt Kenya University which demonstrates the diversity of the participating teams. 

The five-week experience was also a self-discovery journey where learners were able to hone skills and improve them while also having fun.

For instance, every Monday, students were given an opportunity to share moment-by-moment awareness of thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations and surrounding environment. 

Mentorship programmes provide opportunities to learn and grow skills and attain a new level in learning.

Other like-minded organisations from different sectors of the economy should create similar initiatives that go a long way in helping to prepare young graduates for the world of work.  — The writer is a student of Dedan Kimathi University and former leader of Team RemD

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