UKZN Students Share Knowledge to Enhance Success
UKZN’s College of Health Science’s Student Support Services Unit in collaboration with the College Teaching and Learning Office recently held a Peer Wellness Mentorship Programme (PWMP) certification ceremony. The programme which is unique to the College at UKZN has 774 mentees and 43 active mentors who had a total of 4 447 sessions with mentees across three campuses: Westville Campus, Howard College and the Medical School.
‘It is part of the college initiative to strengthen the first-year experience of students and to contribute to their adjustment to higher education and enhance their overall success. The need for a Peer Wellness Programme is critical to the support of first years,’ said Mrs Wulli Thaver, Student Development Officer at College Student Support Services. Despite the entry into university being a very exciting experience, it places many demands and challenges on students which is necessary for them to overcome in order to achieve academic success.’
Thaver said research confirmed that the majority of students who drop out of or fail higher education courses do so in their first year, resulting in the first year being termed as a "make-or-break" year.
Sport Science student Ms Nombulelo Gidigidi said she enjoys being part of the programme. She said the challenge that she faces as a mentor is trying to convince students who are struggling academically to stay in the programme.
‘First year is a make-or-break year, so students need both academic and peer mentors to help them adjust to campus life,’ said third year medical student and mentor Mr Bonginkosi Mafuze. Mafuze and seven others in the programme took it upon themselves to mentor students academically for at least three hours a week. According to him the students really appreciate the service.
Dr Saloschini Pillay, College Manager: Student Support Services, said: 'The College of Health Sciences is currently the only College with a structured, collaborative programme between the support and academic sector, designed to enhance student success. She further noted that the Peer Mentoring programme formed one part of several strategies that the CHS has in place to enhance the 1st year experience of our students, contribute to their overall adjustment and success and respond to the requirements of the AMS Policy. We enjoy a dynamic group of mentors, who displayed initiative and creativity in their engagement with our students from pre-registration onwards.’
Professor Ntombifikile Mtshali, College Dean: Teaching and Learning, said the PWMP was really working, and thanked all the mentors for dedicating their time to helping new students in their transition from high school to tertiary life. ‘Being a good mentor means being at your best at all times. The survival of the first years depends on the mentor’s role. The first years depend on the mentors in the absence of their parents.’ Mtshali thanked the mentors on behalf of the college, telling them that their contribution was a lifetime investment.
Professor Fanie Botha, College Director: Professional Services, said it was enlightening to hear positive feedback about the programme. He thanked the mentors for completing the programme. ‘Keep up the good work and thank you for being giants in the programme,’ he said.
Thaver said this year saw Student Support Services take more responsibility for the programme at all sites of the College, which allowed them to get to know each one of the mentors better. ‘We have gained much insight from the mentors and our first years, which will certainly help in planning our 2014 programme,’ she said.