Guidance and counselling programme returns to hinterland dormitories
DPI, Guyana, Wednesday, March 21, 2018
School Welfare and Guidance and Counselling officers participated in a one-day workshop which will see the second phase of a programme that serves youths residing in hinterland dormitories.
The workshop forms part of a collaborative effort between the Ministry of Education and the United Nation Children’s Fund (UNICEF). Initially, the programme’s first phase was piloted for a period of two years at the secondary school dormitories at Charity in Region Two, Bartica in Region Seven and St Ignatius in Region Nine. The first 10 officers were sponsored by UNICEF for the Master’s programme in counselling to work six weeks at a time within these dormitories assisting students.
The Ministry of Education’s Chief Welfare Officer, Gillian Vyphuis explained that the programme proved successful as the children housed in the dormitories, developed coping mechanisms for dormitory life; were able to cope with unfamiliar surroundings and make informed decisions. The venture also resulted in improved living conditions and improved staff competence.
According to Vyphuis “20 students were successfully counselled in suicide prevention, there were 10 sessions of group counselling done to help with bullying and 45 students were counselled to help with drugs and alcohol.”
The Chief Welfare Officer said the programme was welcomed by stakeholders including the head teachers, staff, dormitory-parents and the regional administration.
Chief Education Officer (CEO) Marcel Hutson described the programme as vital in aiding to bridge the gap between the hinterland and coastland.
He encouraged the officers participating to be vigilant in the execution of their duties. “As we continue we will fashion and shape plans and policy that will move the welfare department forward”, Huston assured. He opined that the education sector has taken a rapid turn for the better, and as such persons must keep on their toes otherwise all the achievements made thus far will be left at a stand-still.
Hutson emphasised it is important that the programme succeeds because “We want all of our children to perform, all our children to do well.”
UNICEF Education Specialist Audrey Rodrigues noted that the programme is also in keeping with the Sustainable Development Goals 2030 and the workshop will allow the welfare officers to make recommendations that will improve the programme.
The one-day workshop was held at NCERD’s office in Kingston under the theme “Enhancing participation and performance for dormitory children through effective guidance and counselling”.
By: Zanneel Williams