The Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience, commonly known as “AIME”, is a global movement that is geared towards transforming education for children who come from marginalised societies. The program was established in 2005 by Jack Manning-Bancroft and it has been working with children from Australia, USA and Africa. The program operates in African countries such as South Africa, Uganda, Nigeria and Zimbabwe, the latest addition to the programme.
Vhutali Nelwamondo is the AIME programme manager at the University of Pretoria, Nelwamondo left his master’s Degree in Zoology, specialising in Aquatic invasion, to volunteer at AIME. The decision to join was not difficult for him as he has always been passionate about helping other people and AIME presented a platform to do that. His background and life experiences motivated him to join AIME as he comes from Venda in Limpopo where there are not enough opportunities for young people. His passion encouraged him to join the AIME programme that was presented by the University of Pretoria in 2017.
The AIME programme recruit’s students at the University of Pretoria to be mentors. The programme has a community outreach initiative where the mentors go to different schools in Mamelodi and participate in what is known as Tutor Squads. The Tutor Squads are aimed at helping learners in mathematics as it is a challenging subject for many learners, the focus is on ninth graders as this is the grade that career choices are made, the learners thus require more guidance in helping them identify their strengths, weaknesses and interests.
In addition to the Tutor Squads, programme days are fun filled days hosted monthly where the learners come to the Hatfield or Groenkloof Campus. The idea behind this is to familiarise learners with the university environment. “If learners are exposed to the university environment they will wish and imagine that they are part of the university, and if they can imagine it, they can become it”. Therefore, the programme days are aimed at building the self-esteem of learners thorough games and giving learners a platform of showcasing their talent though dancing, singing and poetry. Another important activity that the learners engage in during programme days is a campus tour in which the learners are shown around the campus for them to be familiar with its environment.
The AIME programme plays an important role in the learners lives as it provides them with mentors to guide them through their academic journey and also providing them with opportunities as the main goal of the programme for the year 2020 is to make it possible for the learners to attend the UP graduation ceremonies, learners will attend a graduation ceremony that is in line with their career interest. This will make them realise that their dreams are valid, and they can achieve anything they want if they put their minds and effort into it.