The blog highlights the need of school counselling in public and private institutions of Pakistan.
School counseling at public and private schools aims to facilitate student achievement, improve student behavior and attendance, and help develop social skills. Many mental health professionals with master’s degrees or beyond provide valuable counseling services in and around schools. Many schools have proper full-time counselors as staff members who help students decide careers and plan for university and intervene when participants face any kind of behavioral, physical, or psychological problems.
Unfortunately, there are no school counseling services in our educational institutions. There is no counselor to whom students can talk or share their psychological and behavioral problems. Those studying in elite schools have limited access to career counseling services. These schools charge high fees for counseling. According to All Private Schools and College Owners’ Association (APSCOA), there are an estimated 710 private schools operating in Islamabad and about 2,100 private schools in Rawalpindi. A majority of them do not offer career counseling to their students.
When such facilities are ‘missing in school,’ students are left with little choice but to rely on friends and family to help them refine their career goals. I talked to Farhan Ali, a 9th-grade student of a private school in Lahore, He simply stated, “There are no such things as counseling in our school and the management has left it upon us to select subjects of Science or Arts.”
A school counselor is responsible to help students choose subjects according to their potential and goals. They also help during times when students are confused about the process of applying to foreign institutions. Today, the role of the school counselor is multifaceted and may vary depending upon the individual school. They provide guidelines on psychological and social issues especially when students are going through their teens, confront bullying issues, and want to equip themselves with study skills. Their role becomes more enhanced when students talk about having conflicts with their peers, teachers, or parents. Through meditating sessions and therapeutic techniques, students learn to deal with their problems effectively. Through training, school counselors address learning difficulties and psychological concerns that commonly exist in children and adolescents and make parents aware of such issues. They also help students with special needs or learning difficulties.
It is saddening to see that the government has done little to address the issue of counseling services at various levels in Pakistan’s educational system. We need to arrange seminars and workshops to make students aware of the significance of school counseling for their wellbeing.