Teach First Deutschland partnership: Employees act as mentors
Social class is a stronger predictor of educational achievement in Germany than in almost any other industrialized country. The PISA study, a worldwide student assessment program, indicates that one in five 15-year-olds in Germany can hardly read, write or do math. Seven percent of students drop out of school without earning a formal professional qualification.
As a large organization with a high demand for qualified staff, Deutsche Post DHL (DPDHL) champions education through its GoTeach program and partnership with Teach First Deutschland (Germany). The non-profit organization is part of the “Teach For All” network which includes partner organizations in 23 countries. One activity through which DPDHL supports Teach First Deutschland (TFD) is with a school mentoring program.
Employees support and encourage students in grades 8 to 10 at German general and less academically-oriented secondary schools (Hauptschulen and Realschulen) for around 15 months.
Mentor Isabella Harling, a postal delivery worker at Deutsche Post DHL in Duisburg, Germany, is a mentor. “I moved to Germany from Poland when I was 14 [years old] and couldn’t speak a word of German. I certainly understand the difficulties at this stage of schooling. That’s why I chose to mentor Dilara, a 10th-grade student.”
Matching mentors and mentees
Mentors and mentees are matched in cooperation with the mentees’ schools using carefully stipulated criteria like location, personal interests, mentors’ skills and mentees’ development needs. The mentor and the student sign an agreement naming the objectives and the organizational framework for the mentoring project.
Pride and prospects
To kick off the program in 2010, a total of 25 mentoring tandems were formed at eight schools in Berlin, Hamburg and cities in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia. The mentors and students have been meeting regularly since September 2010. Feedback on the program has been so positive that plans have been put in place to expand and make it a permanent feature of the DPDHL’s GoTeach programs. In 2012, some 100 company employees should become mentors – a clear sign of the project’s future.
“That we’ve achieved what we agreed when I became her mentor makes me very proud,” says Isabella. “Dilara has come a long way. She now knows exactly what she wants to do when she leaves school. She wants to be a legal assistant, working in a lawyer’s office.”