The Klesis Team
In telling his incredible story of success, 20 year old Prince Jonathan Chirwa does not tell it exclusive of Klesis Education Initiative.
“Due to lack of guidance on what career path to follow, I realised that the field I was in was not suiting me well,” he starts telling his story which, in a way, is the story of Klesis Education Initiative. “I managed to get some distinctions in my pre-med year at the University of Malawi’s College of Medicine but my heart was not satisfied. I always wanted to study something which would go along with my passion.”
Thus, in pursuing his passion he cast the net wider and applied for a degree in Biochemistry at McGill University in Canada. Beside him was the mentoring from the Klesis Education Initiative – urging him on, provoking his thoughts, perfecting his application.
For the past 30 years, there has been a plea for a need of mentoring young people in the country so that they have a picture of career prospects that exist after their secondary education, and the ladders they need to climb to attain them.
The problem has been heightened by the sprouting of several private colleges as students yearn for any new institution in town without giving a thorough thought to career prospects.
It may seem as an easy task if you happen to be one lucky chap who had well informed guardians who held your hand through the career decision making time.
It is not the same with a million broken souls who commute our roads going to work every morning just to earn a living and fulfil responsibilities that society has exerted upon them as fathers, mothers, uncles and aunts.
A deep interaction with these responsible career men and women, you will learn with sadness the regrets they harbour deep within because they are working in a field they never dreamed of.
This shows how lack of guidance on career choices can affect one’s journey through life. Due to lack of mentorship, today we have several frustrated employees. The lack of personal satisfaction among employees affects their attitude to work.
Agnes Gogo Wizi is one brave lady who refuses to let students’ dreams suffer a brutal death. Through a mentorship organisation dubbed Klesis Education initiative, she has assembled a group of university graduates to inspire the wearing souls of young people.
Klesis which means ‘responding to a call’ has so far reached out to more than a hundred young people in the country.
“I reached Form four without any knowledge on what to do after completion of secondary school. This ignorance affected my career choice. It was only after I joined college when I realised that there’s a wide choice of careers that I could have pursued,” she says.
The tutor cites her poor mentorship background as the ignition of her passion to stand out and help other youths that they avoid undergoing her ordeal.
Agnes, a 2010 Bachelor of Education in Humanities graduate from University of Malawi’s Chancellor College who also holds a Master’s degree in International Social work from the University of Durham challenges fellow graduates that every effort invested in mentorship is not wasted as her own have started bearing fruits.
“So far, we have coached a good number of young people for both local and international opportunities. Our biggest achievement came within the first year of the initiative’s inception, where four of our mentees were awarded fully funded scholarships to study at various international universities in America,” narrates Wizi with a case in point being Chirwa as the evidence that all can see.
Jonathan Chirwa sat for his Malawi School Certificate of Education in 2012 at St. Patricks Secondary school and got 10 points.
After sitting for the University of Malawi Entrance Examinations, he was selected to pursue a degree in Medical Laboratory Sciences at the College of Medicine.
He studied for an entire year before he realised that he had chosen the program just because many people stereotype good points with the medicine practice. He started thinking of an alternative.
Chirwa’s craving for a different field led him into the hands of Klesis Education Initiative mentors. With the help of his mentors, he is now on a fully funded MasterCard Foundation scholarship.
Looking back during his time at the College of Medicine, Chirwa muses that many young people are afraid of taking the road less travelled and, as a result, they waste their lives studying things they hardly like.
“There should really be a need for mentorship programmes, to open the eyes of the young to wider opportunities. The mentorship I received helped me stay focused, realise my passion and do the scholarship application in easy steps while dreaming big,” he concludes.
Jonathan is not the only beneficiary of the Klesis Education Initiative, the 2015 MasterCard Foundation scholarship has also fished out three youths to study Agriculture Engineering at Earth University in Costa Rica. Another star is Noel Beyard who has secured a scholarship to Arizona State University to pursue an Economics and Global Agriculture degree.
As much as there is a need for personal mentors, others think students can have their best mentors through their teachers. Teachers being the people who know a student’s performance they can be in a better position in guiding young people in career choices.
Education expert Dr. Steve Sharra admits that mentorship is very crucial in a student’s development.
“Mentorship is very important in education because of how complicated knowledge and the education system has become nowadays. Students need guidance not only in academic decisions but in life generally,” argues Sharra.
Sharra who is Director for Link Community Development points out that half of those teaching secondary schools were not trained to teach in secondary schools. So these teachers do not have the ability to mentor their students.
Nevertheless there are other teachers who are well equipped for mentorship but lack of morale affects their delivery.
For instance, it is not a strange phenomenon that a Malawian teacher is always the last to get their pay.
“Teachers do not feel appreciated. Many teachers who have the ability to mentor are nursing a deep anger from the way they are treated. You can’t expect people who feel unappreciated to have the motivation to mentor students,” says Sharra.
However, in the midst of that gap, a young lady has emerged to act as a guiding light to the young people with dreams, hopes and aspirations.
*The article was first published on Malawi online news source Malawi24.com.