By Emuji Magnus
The counselling profession, though not receiving the desired attention from stakeholders, is very unique and strategic to any society because of the multiplier effect of the activities of counsellors in redesigning the future of child. Thus, the place of a counsellor in the upbringing and breeding a child is sacrosanct and must not be neglected under any guise. Counsellors have responsibilities towards steming all forms of delinquencies among children.
Considering the overall benefits the society could leverage from counselling, the Delta State chapter of the Association of Counsellors, being piloted by a vibrant scholar and detribalized Deltans, from the Ndokwa speaking Nationality , Dr. Moses Chukwugi Ossai have been leaving no stone unturned in ensuring that Delta State under the leadership of Senator (Dr) Ifeanyi Okowa is rid off every form of social vices among youths and students in public schools in particular.
Despite the fact that the education sector needs urgent attention by governments and all relevant stakeholders with a view to reclaiming it’s lost glory, especially in key areas of effective teaching and learning, not only in Delta State but the nation at large, one crucial area that is bedevilling the society which should be tackled with all sense of purpose is the issue of negative/social vices among youths with particular emphasis on the students.
In the 50, 60s and even 70s down to early 80s, students were not exposed to the social vices and the standard of education was universally perceived to be high in terms of the quality of students and their performances, especially within the period when the Missionaries were in charge of schools. The level of discipline that was inculcated in the children was overwhelming. In fact, in all ramifications, they impacted positively on the students not only in academics but also in moulding their characters in line with the need for them to imbibe the right attitudes and morals that could enable them add much value to their lives and the society in general.
However, this feat could be achieved through hard work and commitment among teachers. First, one must be conscious of the fact that something needs to be properly done and that all hands, henceforth should be on deck to address the issues, observed to be militating against the education sector and this regard, the entire society.
Delta State under the administration of Senator (Dr.) Ifeanyi Okowa, is not unaware of the challenges plaguing the sector and more importantly, the social decadence among youths as the state government is continually taking several proactive measures to curb the menace in the school system in order to meet the expectations of the people.
The Delta State Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education under the watch of a consummate strategist, Chief Patrick Ukah, who is the Commissioner, is irrevocably committed to repositioning the sector as well as reinvigorate positive character in students of primary and secondary schools in the state as the Commissioner is systematically breaking more new grounds in a bid to leave an imprint in the sand of time in the education sector.
Apart from ensuring genuine determination towards the state government’s provision of conducive learning environment for children and various innovations introduced by Chief Ukah aimed at revamping the system to meet the international best practices, in such a way that teachers are put on their toes to discharge their duties creditably to enable students maximize the benefits for their own academic growth, one key area of concern that the Commissioner is beaming his surveillance network as well as focusing keen attention on is the area of tackling with all amount of vigour, everything associated with social vices.
It could be recalled that though, the mentorship programme, already introduced into the school system by Chief Ukah is effectively and efficiently handling the issue of curbing negative vices and value reorientation such as the need for students to shun the kind of life style that could endanger their future and embrace good characters by obeying not only their parents but the elders irrespective of family link or connection, the Commissioner keeps hope alive by harping on the need for stakeholders to embark on aggressive enlightenment campaign against social vices .
The importance of the pivotal roles which the counsellors play in checkmating all forms of unpleasant behaviours among youths through persistent advocacies in schools cannot be overemphasized. There is no doubt, that most students have been deeply rooted in social vices.
To this end, however, pragmatic approach intended to unravel the menance by bringing it to the bearest minimum if not total elimination should be intensified. All stakeholders, particularly teachers and professional Counsellors must as a matter of expedience , jettison the syndrome of ‘ it does not concern me ‘ because a crime free society is the business of all and sundry. Any morally unacceptable ways of the life of a child today, if not tackled would affect the whole society tomorrow as its negative consequences may not spare anybody irrespective of status.
However, the unfettered fashion of life, behavioural patterns and negative attitudes including disobedience by youths and above all the failure by parents, teachers , religious organizations, the elders and the general public as well as the recalcitrant posture of the children themselves, to act in redirecting them to adhere to the morally approved and acceptable conducts are some of the demographic induces that often facilitate social vices in the society.
The Counsellors Association of Nigeria is a recognised body established with purpose of eliminating social vices but for some time now, if not for a very long time, not much had been heard about the activities of counsellors in Nigeria and Delta State in particular even though the association ought to be critical to the policies and programmes of any government.
But here in Delta State, the administration of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, through the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education, does not wish to undermine the relevance of Counsellors in pubic schools given the reality that some children may be influenced unnecessarily by their friends whenever they leave their homes . As part of efforts to enhance collaboration in the fight against social vices such as cultism, examination malpractice, drug abuse and indecent dressing, Delta State Commissioner for Basic and Secondary Education, recently played host to Counsellors Association of Nigeria, Delta State chapter, led by its Chairman, Dr. Moses Chukwugi Ossai who paid him a courtesy call, with a view to brainstorming on the best approach to bring the ‘cancer worm ‘ issue to an end.
The essence of counseling is to bring out the best in a child and strive as much as possible to help him or her see how they can harness their potentials. Thus, in guiding the child, counsellors make use of persuasion mechanism rather than adopting approach that may not bring the desired result.
Similarly, peer group influence also contrubutes significantly to a child’s indulgence in negative behaviors. It is against this backdrop, that it should be stressed that parents must be concerned about the kind of friends they keep.
Besides peer group, parents should as a matter of exigency, always communicate effectively with their children and show equal love to them. Through persistent communication, parents would be able to ascertain what their children are passing through and then, devise a means of resolving them on time before such issues confronting them get out of hand by dovetailing into uncontrollable momentum.
Speaking during the visit by the Delta State Counsellors Association, Chief Ukah called on teachers and counsellors in the state to redouble their commitments towards putting an end to social vices among students in pubic schools just as he tasked private school owners to intensify efforts in addressing same in their schools so as to produce a crime free students, adding that every trained teacher was a counsellor.
Notwithstanding the volunteering services counsellors render, it is certain that not much have been achieved in terms of changing the sad commentary so they need to do more while at the same time, appreciating their modest contributions in nurturing the characters of students .
The impact of the association should be better felt. And in order to actualise that mandate, the Counsellors Association of Nigeria, Delta State chapter, should articulate strategies to curb negative vices in the school system.
Continuing, Chief Ukah, who told the Counsellors that more comprehensive and aggressive awareness creation should be embarked upon by the association with the purpose of ensuring value reorientation among students, urged them to discharge their duties in such a way that more lives could be touched and see their activities as service to humanity. The Commissioner also decried the alarming rate of the decay of the education system.
While attributing the increasing number of students in schools to the ever growing population of the country, Chief Ukah noted that there should be continuous weekly mentoring in schools by the principals and school heads. He particularly urged teachers to brace up for more productivity in their services, stressing that as soon as teachers display willingness to teach, the students would be ready to learn .
In his remarks, the Chairman of Delta State Counsellors Association( CASSON), Dr. Moses Chukwugi Ossai, who informed the Commissioner that him and his members were in his office for familiarisation visit to to intimate him with their activities, appealed for partnership with the ministry to enable the association record more success.
Dr. Ossai said that the essence of soliciting the ministry’s collaboration was to evolve more realistic ways of achieving greater, qualitative education for Deltans. The Counsellors Association Chairman maintained that youths were confronted with different form of social vices, adding that if the problem was not nipped in the bud, the society might be heading into extinction.
According to Dr. Chukwugi Ossai, the association was interested in impacting positively on students of primary and secondary schools as well as other institutions of learning so as to build morally and mentally informed younger generation who would be leaders of tomorrow, even as he applauded the Commissioner for accepting to be one of the Special Guest of Honour in their forthcoming Conference. He called on the state government to support it’s activities.
The Chairman, however, commended Chief Ukah for initiating several reforms in public schools in the state including the mentorship programme which he described as apt, Dr. Ossai further stated that the Counsellors had always been at the forefront of the campaign against examination malpractice, drug abuse and raping, among other issues.
While reiterating that the Federal Ministry of Education had in couple of years ago, lunched the Counsellors Association of Nigeria with the National Policy framework on counselling already in existence, Dr. Ossai disclosed that the implementation guidelines for the policy have also been published by the Federal Government of Nigeria. He said that in 2022, Delta State would host the national body of the association.
On her part, the Special Assistant to the Governor on Education Matters, Mrs. Iroro Oyearone -Maidoh, said that the counsellors association in the state was committed to assisting Governor Ifeanyi Okowa fulfill his mandate in the area of sustainable youths orientation with focus on the education sector towards building a stronger Delta vision, noting that the association would continue to contribute it’s quota in eradicating social vices in the state.