New alliance aims to promote culture of mentoring for youth

Ms Elfi Sufiyanti (standing, left) during a mentoring session with a group of secondary school students.
Ms Elfi Sufiyanti (standing, left) during a mentoring session with a group of secondary school students.PHOTO: CARE SINGAPORE

SINGAPORE - When Ms Elfi Sufiyanti was a teenager struggling with friendship issues in secondary school, someone from Care Singapore helped her navigate through her problems.

Now 26, she is working with the youth-centric charity to mentor other young people.

Knowing first-hand how much it had helped her, she is hoping more will take part in mentoring programmes to help young people, including those struggling with self-image and self-esteem issues.

To this end, Minister of State for Culture, Community and Youth Alvin Tan on Friday (March 26) announced the Mentoring Alliance for Action (AfA), to develop common resources and share best practices on mentoring to raise standards of mentoring in the youth sector, and help young people achieve their full potential.

This is the 20th AfA announced since such partnerships between industry players and the Government were launched in June 2020.

The new Mentoring AfA will work with other organisations to build up the pool of volunteer mentors and develop training courses for them.

It is co-led by non-profit Mentoring Alliance Singapore and National Youth Council (NYC) and includes other organisations involved in mentoring such as Care Singapore.

To encourage people to step up and guide young people, an online platform collecting pledges and commitment to youth mentoring was also launched. It is accessible at afasingapore.org.

Participation in formal mentoring programmes here remains low.

A poll of 1,500 people aged 16 to 34 years old, conducted in February this year, found that only 11 per cent of them had taken part in programmes which could help them.

The poll was commissioned by NYC and carried out by Singapore-based consumer research firm Milieu Insight.

Of those who had not participated in a formal mentoring programme, 63 per cent said they would be open to doing so.

But the poll showed there was a significant lack of awareness of formal mentoring programmes and little knowledge of those which are suitable for them.

Ms Elfi said finding a suitable mentoring programme will help to shape young people and give them the opportunity to explore possible career routes or address other issues.

"With the right mentorship, they will be able to improve their interaction with others and self-manage themselves in the future by making the right decision guided by their mentor's advice," she added.

Agencies in Singapore are looking to build up capabilities in such mentoring programmes.

At the National Mentoring Summit on Friday morning, experts, practitioners, academics, and others interested in mentoring shared their knowledge and best practices.

Two Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) were signed at the event, which had more than 500 attending either in person at YMCA of Singapore in Dhoby Ghaut or virtually.

The first, signed between the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth and Mentoring Alliance Singapore, appoints the non-profit as a key national intermediary to grow mentoring volunteerism and forge partnerships with public-private-people sector partners to do so.

The second MOU was signed between Rotary Learning Institute Singapore and Mentoring Alliance Singapore, for the institute to deliver the non-profit's first Workforce Skills Qualifications (WSQ) training course on mentoring.

Mr Tan, who spoke at the summit, said signing the MOU will help to "raise the pool of volunteers and mentors, to increase the standard of volunteering and mentorship and to build capacity and capability".