Institute counselling lessons in schools

If you are to work effectively with your counsellor, you should feel safe and able to take risks by disclosing and discussing sensitive issues. PHOTO | GETTY IMAGE

What you need to know:

  • The issue: Counselling in schools
  • Our view: Young learners might not need to be too nosy, but they must be taught to show concern for the bahaviour of those around them so that they are able to respond with help in time to avert such tragedies.

The death of a 17-year-old Senior Four student of Wanyange Girls School in Jinja City might seem an isolated case to some but is a wakeup call to all stakeholders in the education sector.

Police have treated the matter as suicide since the deceased was found hanging in the dormitory. A conclusive post-mortem and investigation would reveal the cause of death.

For the school, it is a haunting experience they might have to live with for years, while for the parents, the grief is certainly profound beyond words – they will probably have to deal with too many questions with too little answers.

However, based on the preliminary police report, there can be fewer areas to look into than in the society that today has become and the education learners are getting. There were times when parents were heavily involved in the education of their children. They attended to a child’s every need and saw them through their progress at every step. But those times are fast becoming one of the many much-talked about ‘good ol’ days.’

Such an unfortunate change in human culture could not have faced a harsher damage than in the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic that wreaked havoc and destroyed socio-economic order in the last two years.

The economic downturn that parents are facing might be one thing but the closure of schools for nearly two years – along with so many other effects– have affected many young learners in more ways than many would want to admit.

At school, especially, these challenges are compounded by the fact that few learners are being given adequate psychosocial counselling to cope with the prevailing hardships. There is just too much quest for academic excellence that many institutions no longer pause to reflect on the cardinal role of education, which is to make responsible generations of future leaders.

In the case of the Wanyange Girls student, it is alleged the victim had posted on a WhatsApp group a message that pointed to her own tragedy. But nobody even suspected it. Young learners might not need to be too nosy but they must be taught to show concern for the bahaviour of those around them so that they are able to respond with help in time to avert such tragedies.

Just last month, a Senior Two student in Amolatar District committed suicide after his father reportedly gave him no hope of returning to school following the reopening of term two. Added to the latest tragedy, it is only prudent that schools move fast to realign their education system.

There might be no need to get us a whole set of new curriculum on psychosocial counselling but stakeholders – including the Ministry of Education – must act fast and compel schools to have internally grading subjects in which learners are taught counselling. Having CRE and occasionally counselling sessions are not enough.