Iskul implemented the Mentor-Mentee program following the Strategic Planning Meeting in May 2018. Our Headmistress (Kak Roziah) and Field Coordinator, Aida meet with our ‘Mentor Pelajar’ (Mentor) to brainstorm how to kick-start the programme. This resulted in having four (4) Mentors to guide Level 1 and Level 2 (Pre-School levels) students from Monday to Wednesday in the Pondok Iskul for two hours daily. Each Mentor guides 3-4 students to revise lessons after the weekend classes. Mentors get an allowance of RM35 (for 3 days per week and 3 hours daily).

However, the journey met many bumps along the way. We faced challenges mainly from both mentors and students. Overall, we only managed to conduct 9 classes between June to July. Despite having agreed to teach during the initial meeting, Mentors were noncommittal throughout. Only two Mentors attended nearly half of the classes while one Mentor attended twice and another one, once. Therefore, our FC had to teach instead. The initial lukewarm responses was also a result of some students’ refusal to be taught by their friends. A few students prefer to be taught by either the Mastal Arikik (MA) or the Field Coordinator (FC).  Students’ attendance was also poor, only less than 5 at the beginning.

The Mentor-Mentee program may be a helpful method to give both students and mentors more time to learn and practice writing. It may work in the formal school setting in the city but it did not work in our community possibly due to various reasons. Firstly, our students and mentors live in a different reality than students who attend formal school. They need to work to help support their family. One of our Mentor had to miss classes because he was away at sea fishing with his family. He only managed to teach twice out of the 9 classes. Another mentor was busy washing clothes at one of the Omadal resident’s house during at least two of the classes. Despite that, this particular Mentor managed to attend 4 classes. Secondly, during the high tide, some of our Mentors couldn’t find transport (sampan/wooden boat) to go to Pondok Iskul. Hence they had to miss the class. Finally, the Mentors were shy to teach and took some time to warm up to the idea of speaking in front of a group.

Despite the challenges, our 7th class and 8th class saw the attendance of 3 Mentors with at least 10 to 16 students. However, that did not last as the attendance dropped in the next class. Due to that, we decided to put this program on hold while we find ways to improve it.