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Opinions of Thursday, 2 May 2013

Columnist: Ali, Tanti Robert

We must streghtened guidance and counselling services

in our schools

Guidance comes from the root word ‘to guide’ which could also mean to bring out or to lead. Vivian etel (2007). The concept Guidance also means to monitor, direct or to help an individual to achieve his or her aspirations in life.
Guidance is a process of helping someone to make a good and informed choice. It involves making people understand themselves and what goes on around them. According to Shertzer and Stone (1976), Guidance is a process of helping an individual to understand himself and his world.

Counselling on the other hand is a relationship between a Professional Counsellor and a client where the counselor assists the client to overcome a challenge. The Counselling relationship is an open relationship where the client feels freely to share his/her problem with the counselor in a free environment created by the counselor.

Thompson and Poppen (1972) defined Counselling as a person to person relationship in which one person helps another to solve a problem.
From this background, the existence of the Guidance and Counselling unit in our educational institutions is inevitable hence the unit must be strengthened and equip with Professionals to offer assistance to the youth in schools for them to achieve their future aspirations. This is because most students in school are in their adolescence stage and this is a formative stage which demands guidance especially in the form of information giving.
The recent happenings in our educational institutions across the country need much to be desired. The report that some students are involved in prostitutions, armed robbery, homosexuality among others must be a concern for all of us. For me it is a manifestation of failure on our part to tightened institutions which are mandated be in charge of our youth development in the country. In addition the youth are deeply rooted for foreign culture since nobody is ready to inculcate our values and ideals in them. Not long ago there was a report that 8000 gays including Junior High School students have registered with an NGO in the central and western regions. There was another revelation that more basic school students now smoke and the sodomy of five students at the Adisadel College by their Mathematic teacher. The sodomy of the 15 year old boy in Takoradi by an adult and the dismissal of a lesbian lecture at the Takoradi Polytechnic were signals that there was a serious problem in our schools especially the boarding houses. Unfortunately, after such reports I have not seen any pragmatic efforts being put in place to prevent more innocent young people from becoming victims of many of these vices. In recent times there have been reports of suspension of students across the country for committing several offences.
According to a myjoyonline report, the Northern School Business Senior High School in Tamale suspended over 950 of their final year students with Kumasi Girls also doing same to over 400 students during the Easter celebrations this year for various offences. The Daily Graphic on its 1st April edition also reported that 85 students from Keta Business College and Abor Senior High School were withdrawn for a similar offence.
The number of students involved in all these incidents is very worrying and should be a source of concern for all Patriotic Ghanaians who have Youth development at heart. The fact that the number of affected students is overwhelming means that there is a serious problem with the systems and institutions mandated to check the behavior of our students.
Whilst I commend School authorities for taken disciplinary actions against them I also believe that the solution to curb this menace goes beyond suspensions.
We must come to terms with the adolescence stage which is very critical and sensitive to the development of the individual.
Most people take decisions such as Career choosing, programme of study in higher institutions, personal development etc and therefore it is important that we have strong institutions in place to provide Guidance and Counselling to them.
It appears our concentration is on teaching of content and passing of examinations which has become the business of the day in most of our schools at the expense of our moral and social lives. Whilst I acknowledge teachers for doing their best to make sure students pass and become successful people, we must also make sure we don’t produce people who will have social and moral issues with the larger society. I call for the opening of counselling centers in all our first and second cycle institution to serve as a catalyst in giving useful information to help students to understand themselves and the world around them. The establishing of counselling centers in all levels of education is inevitable in our quest to promote a healthy lifestyle of our younger generations. The training of more educational counsellors who would facilitate guidance talks through information giving should be the priority of the Ghana education service. Such centers may also liaise with local NGOs and communities in organising programmes for teachers and parents to create awareness of the consequences of behaviours such as homosexuality, drug addiction, early sex, abortion etc. It is obvious that children who fall prey to their victims are innocent and naive. It is therefore our duty as a country to protect them. Educational counsellors must facilitate the strengthening of clubs and associations in our schools. Such clubs give opportunity to students to share ideas on many of these issues which are gradually becoming a problem.
I also urge civil society organisations to offer assistance to schools in their catchment area in this direction.
Professor George Kankam of the Department of Psychology and Education, University of Education states “If education has any fundamental, then the fundamentals’ of guidance and counseling will constitute the fundamental of education”
Guidance and Counselling should therefore move hand in hand in our educational set up to assist students to properly adjust to the school environment.

The writer is also the Executive Director of Youth Alliance for Development (YAD) with its head office in Obuasi