YOUTH ALLIANCE FOR DEVELOPMENT

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Heightening guidance and counselling services

Throwing more light on the concept of guidance, Miller F.W (1978) in his book Guidance principles and services sees guidance as all the activities engaged in by the School that are primarily aimed at assisting an individual to make, carry out adequate plans and to achieve satisfactory adjustment in all aspects of his daily life. Supporting the above definition, George and Cristiani (1986) in their book Counselling theory and Practice stated that Counselling is a relationship between a professionally trained counselor and an individual seeking help in gaining greater self-understanding, improved decision-making skills, behavior change and skills for problem solving. Reading through the above definitions of the concept of Guidance and Counselling over and over again makes me wonder whether our stakeholders in the educational sector are much concerned about the services in our schools. Let me admit that most of our Senior High Schools now have Coordinators for Guidance services despite the numerous challenges they face but the same cannot be said in our basic schools. In the basic schools students may engage in drug use, alcoholism, occultism, internet fraud, and even have challenges coping with academic demands. The Chief Executive of the Ga East Municipal Assembly, Mr Kwao Sackey, at a durbar early this year admitted that the absence of counsellors in most junior high schools (JHSs) is a contributory factor to the inability of some candidates to gain admission to senior high schools even though they might have performed well. To him most students did not gain admission to senior high schools not because they did not perform well but because there was no professional guidance counsellors in those schools to guide the students to select the right schools. In his article published on graphiconline.com.gh on Friday, 27 December 2013 on the topic Lack of Guidance and Counselling: the main bane of formal education in Ghana, Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor asserts “One thing that I have stumbled upon on my rounds to explain a particular problem that the youth in Ghana face in their struggle to chart a proper path in life is the lack of guidance and counselling, especially at the formative stages in life when they most need to be informed about the vicissitudes of life and how the career choices they settle on can make or mar their lives” Dr. Bokor further asked “Why is it difficult for the Ministry of Education and the Ghana Education Service to adjust to the demands of contemporary times and introduce guidance and counselling as imperatives in the education of Ghanaian students? Guidance and Counselling units at the various schools, well-staffed with people who know what the field is about can go a long way to address pertinent needs” THE WAY FORWARD Professional and trained school counselors should be given room on the school calendar to guide and counsel students on personal interest, strength, weakness, aspirations in life among others. Such counselors must be given time to even visit students home, know their performance level, and work on their abilities and interests. It appears we are only interested in getting every child to school but we are not interested in bringing out the best in them after they have finished the academic race. Every child has unique characteristics which must be properly observed well by people with the technical knowhow at the formative stage so that proper nurturing of gifts and talents can properly take place. This idea is supported by the Director of Guidance and Counseling at the Ghana Education Service Mrs. Pokoo Aikins when she said that “Guidance focuses on the need of students, and helps them to satisfy their needs “There is eventually no space for counseling activities in our basic schools. Who is therefore in charge of needs assessment of our children in the basic schools? The impression I get is that we are only interested in training people who can only pass examination with flying coulours. What happens to them after that is none of our business. In addition to the above, the Ghana Education Service must consider other means of assessing our students for placement into senior high, vocational and technical schools. I am worried with the current situation where we consider some students as failures just because they under performed in an external exams. It is disturbing when you tuned in to a radio station and you hear a district has scored zero percent and all the students in those districts are not eligible for placement into senior high school. We can’t continue to build our country with this posture when we tag our future human resource and leaders as failures even before they turn twenty. For better placement of our children we must factor their interest, aspirations, strengths, weaknesses, capabilities before passing judgement on the individual child. The essence of cumulative record is almost missing and we hardly see the cards in school nowadays. Moving forward, I call on all stakeholders in the educational sector to take a second look at the Placement system currently practiced in the country. Mr. Mathew K. Numale, a Lecture at the University of Education, Winneba in his book Guidance and Counselling in Education defined Placement in education as an activity that facilitates the self-placement of persons in situations or settings that will enable them to gain useful information, make satisfactory adjustment and in general contribute to their total development. The renowned lecturer also stated that placement must be done bearing in mind the students educational, career and socio personal development. We must therefore desist from forcing students to do programmes which have nothing to do with their personality just because of their performance in a single external examination. This is because the programme and subject they study play critical role in the work they will do on the job market after school. On this background it is important that guidance and counseling services are effective and efficient in our basic schools. This can also go a long way to reduce the number of unemployed youth who are always relying on central government for jobs. ALI TANTI ROBERT YOUTH ALLIANCE FOR DEVELOPMENT OBUASI

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