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Students say counselling programmes a big joke

By Richard Mutembei | March 5th 2017
Guidance and Counselling session. (Photo: Courtesy)

A new study has poked holes into the guidance and counselling programme in secondary schools, blaming it for the massive substance abuse among youngsters.

Although the new National Authority for the Campaign Against Alcohol and Drug Abuse (Nacada) survey showed that 74.6 per cent of secondary school students identify guidance and counselling as one of the support systems to address alcohol and drugs use in schools, they think it is mediocre.

For example, only 44 per cent of those sampled thought that good communication channels existed between them and teachers, says the National Survey on Alcohol and Drug Abuse among Secondary School Students in Kenya.

The report on alcohol and drug use among secondary school students in 2016 identified several gaps that existed in guidance and counselling.

According to the report, teachers are not aware of the guidelines put in place by the government to address drug abuse. Teachers interviewed complained that the government had failed to offer programmes, training and free workshops to help eradicate drug abuse.

“Guidance and counselling in secondary schools is reactive,” said the report. For example, in some schools, the guidance and counselling teachers only got involved when cases of alcohol and drugs use had been noted or when students have been caught with either alcohol or drugs. Instructors said that students often failed to open up during counselling sessions because they didn’t trust their teachers.

Lack of privacy also hinders students from full disclosure during the sessions. It also said that offices used by the guidance and counselling teachers were not conducive for sharing sensitive information. In the end, support was limited or inadequate due to lack of full disclosure. The report recommends that teachers should establish a good rapport with students.

“This would help the students in opening up regarding the various challenges that they are facing as youths, including use of alcohol and drugs.” The report recommends involvement of all stakeholders to enhance this programme in schools. Guidance and counselling was identified by a majority of the students as one area in which teachers could also play a role in addressing the alcohol and drugs problem in schools.

It also calls for student-friendly counselling, treatment and rehabilitation services. Teachers suggested that the government should employ qualified counsellors to support students who may need help with alcohol and drugs abuse.

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