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Friday, Jul 19, 2024

Missing mentors too busy for grassroots kids

Mentors in two government programs designed to support grassroot children are too busy to meet the youngsters, with 30 percent of participants saying that they had not been in contact with their mentors in the past three months, a survey revealed.
The Strive and Rise and Child Development Fund programs were launched by authorities to pair children with mentors to offer activities to guide them with their future planning.

The two programs offer: mentor-mentee partnering, personal development planning and financial support.

Pertaining to the programs, the Alliance for Children Development Rights conducted an online survey among 333 families in January and February.

Over three quarters of the families surveyed did not take part in either of the programs, while 85 percent of them did not know related information.

"It shows that the programs were not sufficiently promoted and related information did not reach its targeted families," member of the alliance Catlyn Ho Yu-ying said. "Even for families aware of the two programs, quotas were limited and failed to benefit more teenagers in need."

Survey results showed that 30 percent of the participants had not been in contact with their mentors in the past three months.

Another 10 percent said they had only met with their mentors once in three months. A quarter of the teenagers said their relationship with their mentors was alienated.

"It can be seen from the result that an expected mentor-mentee relationship was not established. The mentors did not play a role of influencing teenagers' attitudes towards their lives," the alliance said.

Moreover, Ho said that most of the mentors from the Strive and Rise are business elites with tight schedules. Their professional backgrounds are also not diverse enough to cover teenagers' aspiring professions.

Mrs Wong, whose 14-year-old daughter is enrolled in the Strive and Rise program from last September to August, this year, said her daughter had met with the mentor twice during the first half of the program.

"We've only had a meal together since the first meeting at the introduction session," Wong said. "The mentor who works in marketing was really busy."

She hoped that mentors could be assigned according to teenage participants' interest, which, in her daughter's case, is music. Length of the program could also be extended, Wong said.

Although the programs are aimed at improving teenagers' skills such as self-awareness, future planning and financing, however, less than half of the families disagreed such outcomes was possible. "Some of the themed sessions were only offered one-off, which is difficult for participants to truly digest and learn related skills," Ho said.

Meanwhile, the Child Development Accounts that was suggested by the alliance to provide long-term assistance to teenagers in need, fell short.

"Current financial schemes under the two programs last only one or three years, failing to offer participants an opportunity of accumulating their savings in the long term," the alliance said. "The accounts can be subsidized by parents, the government and the business industry for teenagers' use in their adulthood."
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