In July, iAGRI conducted a five day mentoring orientation workshop (MOW) for newly appointed Sokoine University of Agriculture staff. The workshop was developed by three trainers, Mavuto Kapyepye, Florence Amboyo, and Everyline Otunga from the African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD).
SUA, Vice-Chancellor, Prof Yonika Ngaga delivered a speech at the opening of the orientation workshop stating that once some staff members take up new appointments, they may appear to be familiar with the University either because they are SUA graduates or because they have previously held an appointment in a College or a research group. However, many aspects of University and College life and work may still be unclear to them. For new staff coming to SUA for the first time, orientation problems are often more obvious and can be easily addressed.
“For this reason, rather than being left to find their own feet, newly appointed staff need to be able to find help or be offered it as and when they need it within a recognized and conventional framework. This is why we have the mentoring program,” he elaborated.
Senior Lecturer and Director of SUA’s Development Studies Institute, Prof. Carolyne Nombo led sessions for the workshop. She emphasized that the ongoing training will helps young staff – both female and male – reach their full potential. “Mentoring is a proven and powerful driver for professional, entrepreneurial, and leadership development.”
Prof. Nombo is also a Gender Specialist at iAGRI and coordinator for the formal mentoring program. “To establish a successful mentoring relationship, one should create relationships that capitalize on trust, clearly defined roles and responsibilities, established short- and long-term goals, using open and supportive communication, and collaboration to solve problems” she added.
Dr. Moses Lyimo, one of the mentors present during MOW stated that the mentoring was also useful to him as he mentored students previously outside of the formalized program. “Through serving as a mentor, I have acquired a lot of skills for supporting the mentoring process. Through these experiences, I am confidence that I can work with people with different characteristics, cultural and social background. I have learned how to manage conflicts better through my role as a mentor,” he conceded.
One of the mentees admitted to the program, Judith Samwel Kahamba, is an Assistant Lecturer in the Department of Development Studies at the College of Social Sciences and Humanities. She stated, “Previously, I didn’t know how formal mentoring works. Through the MOW, I now have a deep understanding about the formal mentoring process. I’ve seen how both mentors and mentees need to be proactive and play their roles for the process to be successful. The MOW helps ensure that pairs are equally committed to working together.”
During a coaching session led by the facilitators, Judith identified not only the specific academic requirements, but also the technical and interpersonal skills needed to achieve her goals. “Surely, before the MOW I had my dream, but I didn’t know the possible paths and the time required to achieve it. The MOW helped me to address those requirements,’’ she explained.
Mentoring has been among of the core activities undertaken by iAGRI in collaboration with SUA to enhance the efficiency, effectiveness and visibility of SUA in line with the Corporate Strategic Plan (CSP) 2011 to 2020. One of the objectives of the plan is to improve the efficiency of management systems to address academic, administrative and societal issues. The MOW is part of the support system designed to fully realize the stated goals of the plan by investing not only in individuals, but in systems at SUA as well.
This blog post was written by iAGRI Communications Intern, Kelvine Kazimoto.