Government is looking to assign guidance counsellors to the island’s primary schools sometime in the future.
Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Education, Senator Harcourt Husbands, gave this assurance today.
He spoke after Vice President of the Barbados Association of Guidance Counsellors (BAGC) Saul Leacock expressed concern that primary school children needed guidance from professionals in choosing careers and dealing with a range of social issues before they enter secondary school.
Currently, there is one guidance counsellor in every secondary school except two – the St Leonard’s Boys School and St George Secondary – which have two guidance counsellors each. Some primary schools currently have one social worker.
Leacock said while it would help to have two guidance counsellors in all secondary schools or one guidance counsellor and one social worker, given the amount of work they have to do, he was more concerned that there were no guidance counsellors at the primary school level.
“The primary school is where that primary intervention must be had. Primary assessment, primary intervention, I know because I was a primary school teacher at one time, and I had to do counselling which helped to alleviate the problem of the child going into secondary school because we sought to remedy the situation while they were at the primary school level,” he said.
“So I see the importance of having a social worker and/or a guidance worker in the primary school to help with that work, but definitely there is a void or dearth of counselling intervention even at the secondary level because of the limited number of guidance counsellors and the heavy work load,” added Leacock.
Husbands said the Ministry of Education was “acutely aware of the need for some form of counselling and guidance at the primary level in education in Barbados” while pointing out that “for a number of years”, with the assistance of the Sandy Lane Trust, the Ministry of Education had introduced social workers in the primary school system.
“The economic situation and constraints such as these have not allowed us to expand that programme further, but it is certainly the view, the hope and aspiration of the Ministry of Education, Science, Technology and Innovation that this programme will be expanded and extended as the situation permits,” promised Husbands.
Both Husbands and Leacock were speaking at the opening ceremony for the BAGC’s annual national career showcase at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus.
Between 2014/2015, the Ministry of Labour spent approximately $100,000 on guidance counselling training. Officials anticipated that a similar amount would be spent on further developmental training, following the recent development of new standards.
Turning his attention to the need for young people to prepare for the world of work, Husbands said there continued to be “a static view” among some Barbadians that people should choose a career and stick to it. However, he said “that era” of having one job in a lifetime had ended and he encouraged students to prepare themselves to change careers at least four times in their working life.
“We are not only preparing people to fill position in the Civil Service, but we have the difficult task of preparing them for jobs that are not even created as we speak . . . . So we are preparing you for jobs not yet created but jobs that may be created, not in Barbados but in Dominica, not in Barbados but in Guyana,” he explained.
During the two-day showcase under the theme Embracing the Opportunity, which officially kicks off tomorrow at the Cave Hill Campus, over 5,000 students are expected to take part. More than 50 careers are expected to be on display.