Why a new mentoring project?
Numerous recent analyses show how access to education represents one of the main factors of social inequality, an aspect which more than others tend to make the starting socio-economic condition hereditary.
Italy is one of the European countries where social disparities remain wide and many studies show that one way to reduce them is to intervene on educational inequalities, since a lower level of education is associated with lower employability.
The school dropout rate in our country is still too high and there are too many young people who are unable to find work or for various reasons give up looking for it, sometimes regardless of whether or not they have a degree. The reality is even worse for girls and in the South.
The Museum of Saving has been working for many years with students of all levels, and has been able to grasp from their stories the sense of disorientation in imagining themselves in the future. In the absence of qualified points of reference within the family, many end up taking a path without outlets which leads them, in the best of cases, to retrace the experience of their parents, or to drop out of school early, and sometimes, in a certain context, to adopt criminal conduct.
This is why it is very important to help youngsters recognize and consolidate their human capital, the only effective means of redemption to get out of hardship and poverty. Human capital is also one of the cornerstones of financial education. Many kids, unaware of their worth and abilities, are convinced that only those born rich can have money and that the alternative to poverty is to resort to any means to get rich. Money comes from work, and those who do not study have fewer opportunities to find decent and remunerative employment.
In an attempt to offer concrete support to middle school adolescents, the Museum of Saving has proposed SKY IS NO LIMIT in the 2022-23 school year. This is an experimental mentoring project developed with schools and with the collaboration of associations and individuals interested in helping young people in their preparation for adult life.
The initiative involved 52 students aged between 13 and 14 who attended the eighth grade in the 2022-23 school year, coming from three schools located in three different Italian regions:
- I.C. M.L. King – Grugliasco (TO)
- V. Antonelli middle school – Chieti
- I.C. Basile – Giugliano in Campania (NA)
Each boy/girl was supported by an adult (e.g. professional, entrepreneur, manager…) – selected through collaboration with trade or civil society associations – and under the supervision of a professional coach specialized in preadolescents.
The adult acted as a mentor, accompanying the young person to achieve greater awareness of his or her abilities, resources, vision of the future and the gradual development of autonomy in making choices about one’s school and professional future.
The activity took place through a series of remote bilateral meetings between mentor and student, approximately 8-10 during the school year, with the following objectives:
- Listen freely and without prejudice
- Establish a relationship that facilitates dialogue and allows for free expression
- Help to recognize one’s own aptitudes and aspirations
- Encourage them to continue their studies, overcoming any limits imposed by the social and family context.
To evaluate the effectiveness of the initiative, specific questionnaires were prepared to collect feedback from the mentors, the students involved, their parents and their teachers. An encouraging picture emerged:
- 98% of the students evaluate the project and the relationship established with the mentor positively or very positively; 85% would recommend it to a friend. The aspect most appreciated by them (85% rated 8 to 10) was being able to express themselves freely and feel welcomed and listened to without prejudice.
- Over 90% of the mentors involved believe that participation in the project has left them with something positive, and over 80% express a degree of satisfaction between 8 and 10.
- 97% of parents evaluate the experience positively or very positively, and 74% noted a positive change in their child’s attitude, particularly as regards security and determination towards future choices, an increased interest in school and an improvement in self-esteem and awareness of one’s strengths.
All the teachers involved in the initiative observed in the boys and girls involved satisfaction for having been listened to and supported by the mentors and an increase in awareness of their own abilities.
Download the full report here.
Starting from these encouraging results, the project will be re-proposed involving a greater number of beneficiaries in the 2023-24 school year.