Dr. Zavise Rume
Counselling is universally recognised as a highly specialised profession. There is a growing need of counselling in the school to cater to the need of mental and emotional wellbeing of the students so as to help them enhance academic performance to ultimately contribute to all round development of their personality.
The need for professional counselling service is increasingly felt due to increasing complexities and anxieties of the modern day living. In view of this, there is a need to focus on physiological, emotional and mental wellbeing of the students rather than a normal school routine exercise. Counselling is universally recognised as a suitable strategy for psychological healing of emotional illnesses. The need for counselling is also increasing in the context of Right To Education (RTE) Act, 2009 which ensures every child an Education free of fear, trauma, stress, anxiety and education without corporal punishment. This calls for the service of competent teachers professionally trained on theory and practice of counselling.
We need psychological counseling to enable the students in coping with psychological and emotional crisis. We need Family counseling to help parents and children in resolving behavioural issues in the school; the problems generated from the family or home environment of the students. We need Academic and Career Counselling for students and dropouts to help them know themselves, identify and appreciate their own abilities, interests, enable them to make the right choice of subjects of study, streams of study, or join vocational or technical courses. We need Counselling services for Special Children- delinquent children, physically challenged, indisciplined, slow learners and academically underachievers. We need Trauma Counselling for children with severe mental and emotional experiences in domestic violence, children with tendency to commit suicide, children whose parents are criminals, terrorists, alcoholics, HIV patients, children from broken family or orphans. We need Health Counselling for children to prevent from diseases like HIV/ AIDS, Cancer, TB and Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) and Adolescent Reproductive Sexual Health (ARSH).
The National Curriculum Framework 2005 recognised Guidance and Counselling as an integral part of regular school curriculum. The need for counselling is universal which is needed by all. It is needed by everyone for healthy development of a balanced personality. Counselling is not only needed by persons having certain problems. It is not a mere problematic oriented service.
Young adolescents are experiencing all kinds of mental anxieties and emotional stresses with additional work loads, stiff academic competitions, family crisis, child abuse, peer pressure, exposure to social media, degradation of moral values, substance abuse, sexual abuse. A high mental tension among the school students emerging due to constant academic stress, poor academic performance, underachievers, fear of failure, family and school pressure for high level academic performance. Teachers and parents are well aware of the problems faced by the students. However, they do not have professional competence to deal with the crisis. There is a total absence of guidance and Counselling services in the present education system which deprives the students from minimum counseling services and the students are led to made choices of life by default which brings failure, dropout, unemployment crisis, waste of resources and mismatch between the potentialities and occupations. Thousands of students are attending schools, Colleges and universities without any proper guidance and counseling.
Naga society is undergoing a transitional period of social transformation where many old cultures and traditions are dying out substituted by drug culture, alcohol culture, mobile culture, Facebook culture, pornography culture, tobacco culture, internet culture, gun culture, easy money culture, pleasure seeking culture. Thus, adolescents of the present day world are always in constant pressure, stress, tension and depression. It is in this context that parents, teachers, elders and counsellors have a great role to play in helping the adolescents to equip them with sound knowledge and skills to pass through the stage of “storm and stress” so as to help them to live a happy and meaningful life. The greatest challenge of our time will be to create a healthy environment where adolescents grow gracefully without fear, with a positive outlook and learn to live an uncompromised life (Fr. Bosco, SDB, 2011). This calls for regular training of teachers and heads of the schools on the skills of counselling to develop their competencies in dealing with emotions of the students. Parents should also need to be oriented on the basic skills of dealing with emotions of the students. Guidance and Counselling should be introduced as a separate subject of study for every teacher education programmes. We need to introduce a separate textbook in Guidance and Counseling for school children who will study several counseling issues, mental health issues, practical classes for mental and emotional health.
In view of this importance, there is a need for a clear cut State Government Policy on School Counselling through legislation so as to ensure that a comprehensive school counselling as an integral part of school curriculum is introduced in the state so that counseling programme is inbuilt in the school curriculum. We need at least afew thousand school counsellors to ensure that every school in the state has at least one male and one female counsellor in the state.
We need a State Board of School Counselling Service to regulate necessary laws and rules related to school counselling, recruitment of counsellors, licensing of school counsellors, enforcement of professional code of ethics and the service conditions of School Counsellors. We need a State Bureau of Guidance & Counselling to cater to the need of academic and professional growth of Guidance and Counselling to take care of training the counseling personnel, development of resource materials, conducting research studies on guidance and Counselling in the state. We need a separate cadre of personnel in guidance and counselling. There is a need of state policy to deal with recruitment of counsellors and the service conditions for the school counsellors as a separate cadre. We need a District level and Block level Committee on School Counselling. We need a School level Committee to ensure that counselling service to very student as an integral part of school curriculum like any subject of subject, to cater to the needs of emotional and mental wellbeing of the students.
My experiences in Counseling profession show that the Nagas in general expressed the urgent need for counselling service in the school. However, no government in the State has the political will to spare the necessary resources for generation of manpower resources, creation of afew posts of counsellors in educated related departments like SCERT, School Education, Higher Education, NBSE, Colleges and schools and also infrastrure development necessary for professional service of counselling. There is no professionally designed counselling room in any government institution except in afew private institutions in the state. We need administrative-will to slice certain amount of resources for the development of school counselling in Nagaland. There is a total absence of counselling in the present school education system in Nagaland. A decade ago, the State Government has set up a State level Coordination Committee on Vocational Guidance & Counselling headed by the Commissioner & Secretary of School Education & SCERT Nagaland and the Director, SCERT, Nagaland as Member Secretary with 20 Directors of the 20 State Government Departments as Members which is expected to function as one of the strongest coordination coordination committees in the state, but it is also now not functioning -almost defunct, many members of the Committee even not aware of the existence of this Committee. There is no regular fund flow annually to do anything in guidance and counselling. There is no project in the state which extends financial support to sustain the efforts of counsellors in offering minimum counselling service to the school children, material development and manpower development in school counselling.
We need the support of the state government in strengthening the Guidance and Counselling activities implemented by the nodal department and education related departments for effective implementation of school counselling in Nagaland.
We have All Nagaland Counsellors Association- a professional organisation for all the practising counselors in Nagaland. We need stronger body of professionals who are committed to professional solidarity and fraternity. Members of the association should be committed to work for upgradation of the profession by working for the welfare of every individual’s welfare without bias and judgement. Members of the Association should work hard without a sense of competing one another. The Association should encourage every professionally qualified counsellor to practise the profession without any judgemental attitude towards one another.
We need an intensive research study to explore the Naga Indigenous method of dealing with emotions and resolving sensitive issues and crisis traditionally practised by our parents and elders. In order to cater to the needs of career related stresses, every school should form a Career Club to promote various career guidance programmes in the school.
The author of this article is presently working in SCERT, Nagaland. The views and opinions in this article are purely personal and do not necessarily reflect the policies and programmes of the Department