The challenges of Counseling in secondary schools case study of selected Government secondary schools in Bwari LGA. Of FCT.)


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1.1 Background of the Study

School guidance and counseling service prepare students to assume increasing responsibility for their decisions and grow in their ability to understand and accept the results of their choices. There are effective implementations of guidance and counseling in educational system of developed nations. The service of guidance and counseling at schools provide a good opportunity for students to cope with the demands of learning and personal development (Neyland-Brown, Leslie, John M. Laux, Jennifer L. Reynolds, Kelly Kozlowski, and Nick J. Piazza, 2019). When guidance and counseling services are not effective and face many challenges, students’ adaptation becomes threatened leading to low academic performance, misbehaviour and dropout cases (Adane, 2015). It is believed that when counselors have time, resources and the structure of a comprehensive program to work in, good things happen i.e. guidance and counseling interventions improve academic achievement, students take more demanding courses, develop and use career plans and learning and teaching institutions will have more positive climates (Scholl, 2013). In the words of Paolini (2019) school counselors can utilize guidance and counseling techniques to enhance academic achievement and emotional wellness of all students, mitigate gun violence, use proactive strategies to combat bullying, as well as intervene on student substance abuse and its consequences on academic performance and student wellbeing.

Currently, in the context of many African secondary schools, considerable progress has been made in setting up administrative structures for the provision of guidance and counseling services in educational institutions to enhance personal, educational and vocational development of the students (Boitt, 2016). Different researchers verify that school guidance and counseling officers play significant roles on students’ aspirations, plans, enrolments, and financial aid knowledge. Guidance and Counseling is a process of helping students in making appropriate decisions and improving behavior. The purpose of guidance and counseling services is to impart specific skills and learning opportunities in a proactive and preventive manner which ensures that all students can achieve school success through academic, career, and personal/social development. On the other hand, the effect of socioeconomic status on college enrolment of low-income students is largely explained by the lack of adequate counseling services. By resolving physical, emotional, social and academic difficulties of the students and by helping them to understand their strengths and weaknesses; academic achievement can be improved and overall development can be enhanced. When school counselors encourage acceptable behavior of the student and set workable plan to bring academic, social and emotional success not only supports the student-counselor relationship but also meets the goals of the comprehensive school guidance and counseling program (Buchanan, 2017). Studies on the effects of school guidance and counseling have shown positive results on student’s grades, reducing classroom disruptions, and enhancing teachers’ abilities to manage classroom behavior effectively. High-quality school guidance and counseling services can also help to address students’ mental health needs (United States. Department of Education, 2002). It is believed that when school counselors have time, resources, and furnished counseling room structure to work in; counseling intervention programs improve students’ academic achievement (Day, 2004). In schools, students are constantly expected to do their best because of the belief that success in school is correlated with success in future life. With the world becoming more and more competitive, the quality of school performance has become a primary factor (Nuthana, 2007) is not only important to student but also to those around him/her (Agi, 2013). The provision of guidance and counseling services by professionally trained counselors and/or other allied professionals is important undertaking. As Hregewoin and Yusuf as cited in Aminu & Fisseha, 2020 stated, adolescents in Ethiopian schools were suffering from withdrawal, dropout, economic and personal problems. This is partly due to the absence of professionally trained guidance and counseling personnel in the schools. Besides, lack of appropriate office and administration support, attitude of the society, school community and students to the services are other influential challenges. Similarly, as mentioned by Yirgalem (2013) most school guidance and counselors reported to suffer from the shortage of private counseling room as well as most school principals and other officials wanted the Guidance and Counseling program to focus on education related issues like study skills, discipline and late coming. With the absence of clear roles and responsibilities, most visited guidance and counseling officers in the secondary schools were expected to serve as unit leaders. Concerning the challenges faced in the provision of the service; different points can be raised. For instance, Poi Kee Low (2009) looked at the challenges of counseling services in a school setting in four dimensions namely internal, external, systems and personal challenges. According to Ifelunni (2005) in secondary school setting there are problems related with non-professionalization of counselors, low counselor/student ratio and the lack of recognition from the school administrators toward guidance and counseling services. In the words of Adane (2015), lack of commitment and creativity by professionals to promote the profession in the school is mentioned as one of the major challenges to the service. In line with this almost twenty years ago Yusuf (1998) has asserted that in schools some guidance and counseling personnel preparation and motivation to render the service to the needy students. Moreover, Yirgalem (2013) points out that most of the secondary schools in Ethiopia do not have a separate office room for guidance and counseling services. In addition, this study mentioned as there are no clear roles and responsibilities of the school counselor with respect to rendering the services. As a result of this, most of the guidance and counseling personnel at the schools are expected to serve unit leaders. As Rashid et al. (2011) state the role and responsibility of the counselor in educational institutions is much complex as compared to other organizations since there are legal, professional and organizational issues involved in the counseling process. Additionally, Adane (2015) stated that absence of proper manual and job description about the services of guidance and counseling in schools and vague procedure to evaluate professionals at the end of the semester and academic year are also among the major challenges to continue in hindering effective guidance and counseling services in secondary schools. Therefore, the current study intends to examine the practices and challenges of counseling services in secondary schools Bwari LGA. Of FCT more focusing on availabilities of guidance and counseling programs and professionals; roles and preparedness of school counselors, kinds of guidance and counseling service offered and their evaluation system; and the major challenges which are influencing the provision of guidance and counseling services for secondary school students.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

For successful organization of any guidance and counselling programme, attempt should be made to clarify the role of the counsellor. This lack of clarification of role has led to some unpleasant experiences especially by young and training counsellors sent to schools (Torbad, 2009). Some principals of schools are not too clear of the role of guidance counsellors and some vice principals even viewed counsellors as rivals (Ekpenyong, 2011). These young counsellors are regarded with suspicion even by other teachers, as such, they are offered very little or no cooperation. Elvis (2011) found out that some counsellors, due to addition to teaching loads to their counselling activities decide to forsake counselling. Also, the kind of organization or school structure according to Mkpouto (2012) determines very much the kind of reception the introduction of counselling services will receive. The structure of most school systems is such that, authority is vested on the principal of which, nobody could question. Again, issues such as finance, schedule of time, location of counsellor’s office and keeping of records cannot be overlooked. Funds for the innovative efforts of counsellors had not usually been forthcoming since school heads find it difficult to release funds for counselling activities in school. According to Udom (2010), no meaningful services are cheap. Funds are needed for the purchase of counselling materials like psychological test, collection and keeping of information. The location of the counsellor’s office affects the attitude of students towards counselling. Mkpouto (2012) revealed an account of a school where the counsellor was given a room directly opposite the staffroom and students seen going in where questioned by members of staff. The students felt disturbed. Many schools do not provide a befitting room for guidance and counselling services. Some of the counsellor’s rooms are in the administrative blocks while others are close to the principal’s office. The counsellors office should be located in a separate block distance away from the administrative and principal’s office preferably by the entrance of the school. This will give room for confidentiality. Record keeping is very important in counselling especially for reference purposes. However, because of inadequate arrangement of rooms, the counsellor often becomes the clerical staff and even the cashier. Keeping of records is a forgotten issue in some schools, because it is not easy for the counsellor to combine counselling services with the clerical duties. Confidentiality of given information is very paramount in counselling programmes. Students need to be assured that, their secrets will not be unveiled. However, some principals and teachers expect the counsellors to divulge this information when they are required; this is absolutely against the ethics of the profession. In this case, the counsellor finds himself between two opposing forces. If he insists on keeping such information secret, his relationship with other members of staff and the principal will be shaky. If he divulges the secrets, he loses the respect and confidence the students have for him. The students’ confidence in the counselling programme goes a long way to enhance, the effectiveness of the school counsellor. Another challenge is in terms of the counsellor’s age. The public, according to Olayinka (2008) and Mkpouto (2012) have created problems concerning age. Some people have come to the conclusion that, older counsellors are better than the young ones because of their experiences and their commitment to duties. This attitude shown by some principals and teachers has also influenced the students to behave awkwardly toward the counsellors. Most students would rather seek counselling assistance from older counsellors than the younger ones (Jospeh, 2012). It is very disheartening to notice that, some counsellors are the architects of their own problems in the school system. If the school personnel liaise with the counsellors duties in schools, it is necessary on the part of the councellors to work harder and pull their weight to negate the ill feelings and suspicion about them instead of standing aloof and being lazy. For the smooth functioning of guidance and counselling services, the importance of psychological tests cannot be overemphasized for the counsellors usage. The limitation however, is that most of these tests are foreign, some counsellors find it difficult to interpret and also, if applied on people in this environment, it may lead to cultural bias. There is need for more indigenous psychological tests. These and many other issues and challenges call for this present research.

1.3 Aim and Objective of the Study

The broad objectives of this study is to investigate into the challenges of Counseling in secondary schools case study of selected Government secondary schools in Bwari LGA. Of FCT. The specific objectives include:

  1. To examined the practices of guidance and counseling in Bwari LGA of FCT secondary schools.
  2. To investigate the challenges of guidance and counseling service in Bwari LGA of FCT secondary schools.

1.4 Research Questions

Thus, two important research questions were formulated to guide this study, namely:

 (1) What are the practices of guidance and counseling in Bwari LGA of FCT secondary schools? And

(2) What are the major challenges of guidance and counseling service in Bwari LGA of FCT secondary schools?

1.5 Research hypothesis

The hypothesis below were formulated to guide this study:

Ho: There is no significance challenges on practice of guidance and counseling service in Bwari LGA of FCT secondary schools.

H1: There is significance challenges on practice of guidance and counseling service in Bwari LGA of FCT secondary schools.

1.5 Significance of the Study

Guidance and counselling is a process of helping individuals to understand themselves by discovering their needs, interests and capabilities in order to formulate their own goals and make plans for realizing those goals. An assessment of the challenges confronting guidance and counselling teachers in the provision of quality guidance and counselling services is of paramount importance, hence this study. The results from the study will help shed light on the challenges facing providers of guidance and counselling services in secondary schools in Bwari LGA of FCT. In addition, it will provide vital information to education planners which can be used to come up with a policy on how to strengthen guidance and counselling programmes in secondary schools – through provision of adequate resources besides organizing seminars and workshops for guidance and counselling teachers. The results from this study can also assist education administrators to understand the need for having trained teacher counsellors as well as the need to support guidance and counselling programmes in secondary schools. Lastly, as the direct consumers of guidance and counselling services, students stand to benefit once any necessary remedies are instituted to improve the guidance and counselling programmes.

1.6 Scope of the Study

The study is delimited to investigate or determine the challenges of Counseling in secondary schools case study of selected Government secondary schools in Bwari LGA. Of FCT.).

1.7 Limitation of the Study

According to Best and Kahn (1998) limitation are conditions beyond the control of the research that may place restrictions on the conclusions of the study and their applications to other situations. The major limitation of the study was;

1. The study utilized responses from the students on how guidance and counselling influenced their academic acheivement, therefore, some of the students could have faked their responses.

1.8 Definition of Terms

1. Guidance and counselling: These terms are used in the study to refer to counselling activities in schools, organized by professional schools counsellors.

2. Establishment of Realistic Academic Goals: This is used in the study to refer to student’s ability to use the counselling services and plan academic programmes that would influence the student’s future aspirations.

3. Academic Performance: This is used in the study to refer the scores obtained by the student’s in achievement test on Mathematics, English Studies and basic Sciences.

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