Need For Effective Professional Counselling Systems In Schools

Need For Effective Professional Counselling Systems In Schools


G. Balasubramanian is a doyen of school education in India. He has held several positions of leadership at CBSE, including Director Academics. He was the brain behind the introduction of several innovations at CBSE which included frontline curriculum, Communicative Approach to Language Teaching, Information Technology, Alternatives to Homework, etc. He is also an author, poet and a sought-after speaker at education conferences world over.

 

 

 


The increasing incidents of depression, suicides and other aggressive behavioural patterns among school going students calls for an immediate attention from system managers. The case for appointment of school counsellors as a necessary part of the organizational structure can no longer be considered as an option.

Some major issues that lead to behavioural challenges among the students today are:
1. Parental pressure on performance
The magnitude and direction of the learning curve of the students is being pre-defined by the parents based on their personal preferences, ambitions and expectations for the investments made by them. In most cases, the individual learner’s interests and aptitudes are neither verified nor taken note of.  Investments to support extended learning, further learning and competition management in learning, set further goals for higher trajectories in performance. Desire for “all-in-one’ package from schools by the parents puts extra-ordinary pressure on the mind and the psyche of the learner depriving their natural course of growth. It is therefore important, that schools need to provide adequate personal and social counselling both to the parents and students.
2. Pressure from peers
Peer pressure is one of the major causes of stress among the students in schools. Unwarranted and unhealthy competitions with others both in terms of academic performance and the social status, forces unethical approaches to problems, either due to innocence, or lack of adequate knowledge of the consequences of the actions. Demonstration of heroism, false imagery or abusive uses of tools and appliances are on the increase. Corrective methods to ensure that the learners have the skills of self-esteem, self-analysis and ability to accept the realities have to be taken by the schools. School counsellors have a great opportunity and challenge in handling such situations which is a significant contribution to a nation building.
3.  Achievement syndrome
Urge to perform and achieve is a natural human tendency. But when this assumes a gigantic proportion, disproportionate to the competencies and leads to failure, there is a sense of self-pity. Increasing number of incidents of suicides due to self-pity, inability to accept failure and self-contempt among school going children needs to be addressed. Timely counselling in schools can possibly avoid many of these incidents. Professional approach to counselling is necessary, though every teacher can offer some basic counselling.
4 .Adolescent issues
Thanks to increasing social and cultural osmosis, there is evidence of increasing adolescent pressure among school going students. The ‘start-up’ age of adolescence has come down to an all-time low, and the methods of expression of adolescent intents and urges have manifested innumerable forms. With fast pace and all-inclusive technological appliances handy, such communications need to be mentored, monitored and restrained/regulated wherever necessary. The school heads are finding it increasingly a challenge. The issue needs to be dealt by the counsellors with diplomacy.
5. Bullying in schools
Bullying has long been a challenge to the school heads, as it has several manifestations. Physical, emotional, social, racial, economical and intellectual bullying are present in almost all educational institutions in one form or the other. It assumes the seriousness only when it reaches the boiling point. It is important that the schools should have a system to find out and ‘nip the evil in the bud’. School counsellors can play a significant role in handling these cases with the sensitivity required.
The legal handle to deal with serious cases under POCSA is indeed a step in the right direction, but it appears that its provisions are too drastic with high end punitive recommendations. Wisdom and diplomacy are needed to understand the cases which are sometimes born out of innocence or misunderstanding. Nevertheless, a well-groomed counsellor of the school can really help and facilitate in interpreting and managing such cases.
Though provisions exist for appointment of a regular professional school counsellor, over ninety percent of schools do not have this position filled in. This includes Government and Government –aided schools also.
I think the stakeholders of the system at all levels, need to consider this issue with the seriousness it deserves.
This article was originally published in TheTeacher.in magazine in the month of August, 2018.