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07.07.2009 Education

GES To Reduce Ills In Schools

By Daily Graphic
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The Ghana Education Service (GES) is to revamp the Guidance and Counselling Units in schools to reduce the evils of drugs, occultism, indecent dressing, watching and reading of pornographic materials and Internet fraud which have become worrying phenomena for school authorities and parents.

Currently, counsellors in the junior high schools (JHS) are conspicuously missing, while just a few senior high schools (SHS) have counsellors.

The few counsellors who are left are mostly found in the district education offices but they are unable to visit the schools because they do not have the means.

The Director of Basic and Secondary Education at the GES, Mr Stephen Adu, admitted that guidance and counselling units were dying, especially in first-cycle schools, with just a handful left in some SHS, the result of which had led to waywardness among students and the incidence of previously rare vices such as occultism and cyber crimes.

Explaining why such a useful unit was no more active, he said currently there were only a few counsellors left who could be found in the district education offices and said government had recognised the importance of the units and had committed itself to revamping them to become more vibrant.

“Honestly, they are not many, but the few in the district education offices are supposed to be visiting first-cycle schools to offer their services to the students but they seldom do that because there are over 7,000 public basic schools with just a handful of counsellors,” Mr Adu said.

According to some stakeholders in education, the non-existence of the guidance and counselling units in most schools had contributed to the increasing spate of indiscipline in schools.

Recently, the Junior Graphic went round some public JHS and SHS in Accra to find out if their guidance and counselling units were still in existence but found none.

In a chat with some JHS students at Nkwantanang, the Madina Cluster of Schools and Alogboshie, quite a number of them did not know what guidance and counselling meant, nor were aware that the units existed in their schools.

In an interview, the Director of the Guidance and Counselling Unit of the GES, Mrs Cecilia Biney, said the unit was introduced in schools in 1976 to help students to understand and deal with social, behavioural and personal problems.

She, however, explained that the unit had not been very vibrant due to financial constraints and noted that some counselling co-ordinators in schools are now teaching other subjects because there is not much commitment in guidance and counselling.

“I totally support the need to rejuvenate guidance and counselling units in schools, since most students currently encounter a lot of social, moral problems.

Besides, the upsurge in Internet fraud (sakaawa) among students is a guidance and counselling issue that must be looked at critically,” Mrs Biney said.

She disclosed that schools such as Wesley Girls’ High School, Accra Academy and St Mary’s Senior High School in Takoradi still have guidance and counselling units and that explained why students there are highly disciplined.

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