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Government Urged To Recruit Professional Counsellors in Schools

A clinical psychologist has recommended to the Presidential Working Party on Education Reforms (PWPER) that the government recruits professional counsellors in both primary and secondary schools.

In her view, this will curb the increasing cases of mental health in both students and teachers.

According to Dr Monica Gitonga, behaviours exhibited by children were mental health issues and should be addressed with urgency by developing structures to deal with the situation.

She said that cases of children committing suicide, and getting engaged in weird behaviour such as sodomy, rape and drug abuse are triggered by incidents at an early age that could be addressed through counselling.

“We should have professionals to deal with the mental health of our children because minor incidents such as bereavement at an early age affect one’s mental health, which blows up in teenage years or when they join the university,” said Gitonga.

Gitonga expressed regret that the government invests a lot of resources to recruit teachers but does not seem to care about the mental health of those being taught.

“It is a shame that teachers who are not trained in counselling are in charge of this important aspect of the lives of our children,” added Gitonga.

Gitonga was at Meru Teachers Training College where the PWPER was collecting views from members of the public and professionals on the Competence-Based Curriculum (CBC) and the education sector at large.

Prof Romanus Odhiambo the Vice Chancellor of Meru University of Science and Technology (MUST) said that with most parents in agreement that Junior Secondary Schools (JSS) should be hosted in primary or day schools, their management should be separate.

According to him, the various bursaries given out by Members of Parliament (MPs), Governors and the Head of State should be merged and a body created to manage them saying that the current way bursaries are issued is confusing and the possible danger of funds being misappropriated.

On his part, the Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (KUPPET) Meru Branch said that the government should train more teachers on how to deal with the huge workload occasioned by the CBC.

“In order to increase enrolment in teacher training colleges, the minimum grade should be lowered. At the moment, colleges have low enrolment because of the high grade required for admission,” said Karuti Nchebere, the KUPPET branch Executive Secretary.

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