Qualified persons to soon provide counselling at secondary schools – Manickchand

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Earlier this year there were multiple reports of violent behaviour portrayed by students at secondary schools across the country, prompting the need for intervention by the Education Ministry. Now, however, trained staff will be stationed at secondary schools and are expected to counsel students in need.

Education Minister Priya Manickchand on Tuesday disclosed that the ministry intends to place counsellors at every secondary school in every region. But considering the capabilities of persons in each region, the ministry will start with the schools that have the expertise available.

“We are going to have in every secondary school staff dedicated to guidance and counselling, as far as we can find because you know there are some secondary schools that might not have the expertise but that is our aim and we are working feverishly to get that done,” the Education Minister said.

The News Room understands that these persons will have to be qualified and capable to provide counselling services to the students of each school.

Indiscipline and violent behaviour were observed in schools with instances being recorded and uploaded to social media. This year alone, reports of violence and other unacceptable behaviour by students in schools across the country became topical after the police were called into the Lodge secondary school and an air gun was found in a student’s bag.

This was in June and another incident followed with ‘gang related’ behaviour disrupting the Campbellville Secondary School. The incident was just one day after teachers protested about the prevailing gang-related issues at school.

Following these events, Manickchand said the government is articulating a plan to deal with these problems. Manickchand met with religious leaders, such as pastors and other influential speakers, to secure their commitment to go into schools and provide mentorship to students.

She also said the Education Ministry would not turn a blind eye to violence in schools and operate like it is not happening.

“First of all, I don’t think it’s something we should pretend is non-existent. Secondly, I don’t think it’s something we should become paralysed in fear about. So, getting the police involved, getting welfare involved, there are other people who could possibly influence the young people we’re talking about,” Manickchand previously said.

This has been a long overdue initiative that was previously promised by former Education Minister Rupert Roopnarine. In 2016, he said there is a need for counsellors to be installed in every school to ensure that students receive guidance and to instill discipline.

A central counselling Unit was established at the Ministry of Education in an effort to have trained counsellors placed in schools across the country. It is unclear whether the Education Ministry will use this unit as it implements this new system.

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