Understanding mentorship and the development of a structure to implement and manage a mentorship program to support extensionists towards professionalism

20 May 2008

Throughout the world individuals, organisations, institutions and businesses reconsider the implementation of a mentorship program to be supportive and to promote the professionalism of the employees. There are numerous definitions for mentorship or mentoring but all of them emphasise three elements namely : A reference to individual people, the mentor and protégé interacting with one another; The involvement of some kind of supportive action; and Promoting professional and personal development of the protégé. The South African Council for Natural Scientific Professions (SACNASP) included the appointment of mentors to support Candidate Natural Scientists as a pre-requisite for professional registration. This affects every agricultural extension worker in South Africa. Mentors and protégé's demonstrate specific qualities and characteristics, which are the building blocks, of a successful mentoring relationship. There are obstacles that could influence the mentoring relationship negatively. However the mentor, protégé and the organisation benefits significantly from a successful mentorship program and specifically with regard to professionalism. The structuring, implementation and management of a mentorship program is essential for organisations and individuals who wish to survive.