By Roy Hezron
The Auditor General’s (AG) report has blamed the Ministry of Education (MOE) for doing very little in regard to providing directions on how Guidance and Counseling (G&C) should be carried out in schools.
The Performance Audit Report on Fire Safety Performance in Secondary Schools by the Ministry of Education dated September 2020 revealed that despite the Ministry establishing a GC department at the headquarters, the department had only two staff.
The audit, which sampled 42 schools in five counties based on the prevalence of fire incidences between 2015 and 2019, revealed that the understaffing at the Ministry’s G&C department undermined the effectiveness of administration of guidance and counseling in all schools in the country.
The safety standard manual for schools of 2008 (section 6.9) requires guidance and counseling to be strengthened at school level through providing resources of creating a conducive environment for effective guidance and counseling.
The 2015 Basic Education Regulations necessitated the establishment of the G&C programme after the abolishment of corporal punishment and expulsion of students in 2001.
According to AG, most of fire incidences were as a result of indiscipline cases hence the need for guidance and counseling to act as essential corrective measure focusing on moral values and character formation of the leaners.
Despite schools having G&C departments, the Ministry has not provided the Board of Management (BoM) members with policy guidelines and regulations on how guidance and counseling should be implemented. This has therefore caused minimal impact in reducing indiscipline cases in schools.
“Guidance and Counseling teachers are still in need of professional training so as to be effective in providing this crucial service in the schools,” noted Auditor General Nancy Gathungu in the report signed on September 22, 2020.
From the 42 sampled schools, 31 schools didn’t have qualified teachers to offer G&C although 36 of the sampled schools (representing 85 per cent) were building their capacity by taking guidance and counseling teachers for short term courses in Guidance and Counseling. Teachers in 11 schools (26%) had a masters degree in counseling, those in 2 schools(5%) had a diploma in guidance and counseling and those in 4 schools(9%) had a certificate in guidance and counseling.
At Oloolaiser High School in Kajiado County, the audit team found out that the presence of a functional G&C department was responsible for the high discipline levels. The school has a professional counselor who visits the school daily to offer counseling services to students.
The teacher in charge of the G& C department has a Master’s degree in Educational Psychology hence has sufficient knowledge on how to offer professional counseling services.
The teacher had ensured that the school had secluded guidance and counseling room that allowed for confidentiality. The room has lockable desks where files containing students’ confidential information were kept.
For effective guidance and counseling, schools are required to have a secluded rooms and lockable cabinets for confidentiality of information.