Denise Reid, President of the Region 1 chapter of the Jamaica Association of Guidance Counsellors in Education
By Kimone Witter
The Jamaica Association of Guidance Counsellors in Education says there are schools in rural areas without guidance counsellors at a time when more students are presenting with problems that require their intervention.
Newly installed president of the Region 1 chapter of the association, Denise Reid, says she is to meet with the head of the Guidance and Counselling Unit in the Ministry of Education to discuss the matter.
Noting that the shortage of counsellors is not new, Ms. Reid, who is the guidance counsellor at Mavis Bank High, said the problem is more evident because more students are in need of assistance.
She lamented that not enough attention is being given to each student.
"The things that you do as a counsellor - especially from my school, I have only myself as a counsellor there - when it's time for me to do something else and there is a challenge with another student, I have to leave what I'm doing to attend to it. So I believe that all schools should have at least two guidance counsellors, even if the school population is small," she proposed.
While the situation is challenging for schools with just one guidance counsellor, she said the greater concern is for schools that have none.
Ms. Reid suggested that the lack of involvement by parents in the lives of their children is adding to the behaviours that require intervention.
"I know the ministry [has] taken on a mandate to actually educate the parents in the schools, and they are funding it. However, the parents that we really want to reach, they are not coming out. What I believe the ministry can do is sanction those parents that are not coming out," the guidance counsellor recommended.