Employ Professional Counselors Since Teachers are Overloaded, TSC Told
Phased reopening of schools has come with a fair share of challenges, chief among them being incidences of covid 19 cases in the learning institutions. Covid-19 withstanding, there are other cases schools are grappling with, ranging from increased teenage pregnancies, child labour, increased drug and substance abuse, increased sexual assaults among teenagers, and more psychosocial issues, among the future mantle receivers.
Grades 1-3, 4-7 and forms 1-3, alongside p
p1-pp3 are expected to reopen on 4th January 2021, a clear evidence that the challenges highlighted above, may affect a good percentage of households with school going children. In January 2021, learners will enter classrooms with different mindsets, which will make it too hard to resettle and focus on class work.’
“When schools shut down, early marriages increases, more children are recruited into militias, sexual exploitation of girls and young women rises,” read part of a UNESCO report.
According to the Kenya parents association chairman Nicholas Maiyo, the challenges will be too numerous for learners to refocus their energies on studies. He feels the government should start hiring professional counselors and not rely fully on teachers for post covid psychosocial counseling.
“We will greatly rely on guidance and counseling to promote psychosocial welfare of learners,” said Maiyo.
The need for psychosocial support for learners had been stressed also by the cabinet secretary of education, professor, George Magoha. “All teachers are encouraged to continuously provide psychosocial and spiritual support to learners and school support staff during the duration of the pandemic,” he said during the reopening of schools for grade four, class eight and form four learners.
As per Kenya secondary school heads association (KESSHA) chairman, teachers too need psychosocial support, even as everyone thinks they are the ones who can offer psychosocial support to learners.
“The teachers’ service commission promised to employ counselors at the county level and this is the time to fast track the policy,” said Mr. Indimuli. In his argument, playing the role of counselors, especially during this pandemic, would amount to unbearable work load for teachers.
The sentiments of Maiyo and Indimuli were also supported by Seme TTC principal, Mr. Chebogut, who said that need for professional counselors in schools is overdue since teachers tasked with counseling roles may burn out from the work load.
According to Chebogut, teachers who offer guidance and counseling in schools have academic knowledge but lack practical skills, which are key to an effective counseling process.