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How can mentoring combat poverty? Wonder presents at Oxford University

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Last week our Policy Director Olivia Darby presented on the work of our Philippines, the FPTI schools, at the UKFIET conference, “Learning and Teaching for Sustainable Development: Curriculum, Cognition and Context”. This annual conference at Oxford University was attended by academics, practitioners and advocates from around the world, and showcased both ideas and practice in international development and education.

The official outline of Olivia’s presentation was: “Case Studies: Vocational, Education and Training in the Philippines – the benefits of mentoring in increasing employability, entrepreneurship and active citizenship”.

Her talk shared the case study of post-secondary young women from the Philippines shares the experience of a group of five hospitality and catering schools and their industry partners. She examined how a structured mentoring and personal development programme alongside theoretical studies and industry placements not only shapes students to be better employees, with more initiative, but also gives them the tools to make decisions about their own futures, both in and outside of their professional work. Wonder interviewed students, graduates, mentors and employers to understand how and whether mentoring improved their lives. Testimonies of current and past students, employers, teachers and mentors helped Olivia to make the case that mentoring serves all stakeholders well, as the student is given the opportunity to grow as a citizen, empowered to serve society, conserve resources, take responsibility for her own wellbeing as well as to overcome poverty.

Sometimes these complex ideas are best expressed by the students we support. Jenica, an FPTI student, said:

 “I didn’t know what to do after High School because my family couldn’t afford to send me to college. One day, I was working as a housemaid for my aunt’s friend who referred me to my school because she knows about our family situation. My mentor helps me a lot. She always guides me especially in times of failure and problems. My mother succumbed to cancer last summer and my mentor was there to advise about how to face my problems and to be strong. With her help, I learned to persevere. I want to work in the food industry to help my family in their needs and so that I can help my siblings to finish their studies.”


Wonder will be publishing a paper on this topic later in the year. If you would like to know more about our research please contact

Find out more about our Philippines partner here and donate to support girls like Jenica below: