GOAL is a newly launched SAF mentoring program that pairs second-year students at the University of Ghana and other local college students with underprivileged children in the community. A student acts as a ‘big brother’ or ‘big sister’ to support a child and help them realize their potential by being a positive role model. Through having responsibility for a younger child, the student learns about local social issues, develops their nurturing and leadership skills and also benefits from SAF financial support towards their education.
An independent professional committee decides the pairing between child and student using the following criteria: the child needs to be from an underprivileged background, the student needs to be excelling in their studies and there must be an equal number of male and female student mentors.
GOAL is coordinated by MA students working in the field of education, social work or psychology, who will use this work as part of their thesis. The project has its own Enrichment and Communication Center, equipped with educational games, books, videos, art materials and computers that are available for use by the mentors with their mentees.
Mentors and mentees will meet twice a week for two-hour sessions throughout the academic year. Meetings will be held mainly at the child’s house with their parents’ consent. All activities, including homework, games and social outings, will be supervised and monitored by the coordinators.
While the intention is to build a fulfilling relationship between the mentor and the mentee, most of the children will have complex educational, emotional and behavioral needs, and the GOAL coordinators are responsible for training and supporting the student mentors in this new and challenging role. All mentors will attend a coordinator-led workshop before they begin mentoring and will subsequently meet monthly with the coordinators throughout the academic year.
SAF intends GOAL to be a self-perpetuating ongoing project. As the mentees grow in confidence and maturity they, in turn, will become students and mentors to the next cohort of school children. Following graduation, the student mentors will move into responsible roles within their communities, well equipped to lead the next generation and continue the cycle.
During this pilot year, 50 University of Ghana second-year students will mentor 100 second-grade pupils from Dzorwulu A&B Primary School.
For this, SAF has made up to 50 scholarships available for the mentees at the University of Ghana. After this initial phase, we will be looking to extend this worthwhile project by providing additional scholarships.