The Delhi government’s ‘Desh ke Mentor’ programme that aims to provide voluntary mentors to students in classes IX to XII is set to be expanded to another 200 government schools.
As part of the programme, people between the ages of 18 and 35 can sign up to be mentors through an app created by a team at Delhi Technological University. They will then be connected to students based on mutual interests. The mentorship entails regular phone calls for a minimum of two months, which can be extended for another four months optionally.
So far, this programme is operational in 200 government schools. To expand the programme, the heads of 200 shortlisted schools have been asked to brief class teachers of classes X, XI and XII on the programme, and to ensure that students are aware of it, as well as the registration and grievance redressal processes.
The ‘Desh ke Mentor’ programme ran into some trouble early this year when the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) asked the government to suspend it, raising concerns over the possibility of children being exposed to abuse by people designated as mentors.
While the government did not suspend the programme, it issued a code of conduct for mentors spelling out that they are not to initiate or encourage physical contact or sexual relations with a child and that they are not to share any pornographic material with them. It had also issued an advisory for parents of the enrolled children to supervise these phone calls and had mandated that there be no physical meetings between both parties.