The Nigerian government has unveiled a national policy on counselling and guidelines for implementation in schools across the country.
The policy seeks to entrench a regime of international best practices and clarify areas of possible conflict and misconception in the practice of counselling.
Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, disclosed this at the unveiling, dissemination and distribution of the policy in Abuja on Thursday.
He said Nigeria has not had any national policy guiding counselling services for almost 60 years.
This, the minister described as a shame, noting that the absence of a policy has resulted in the lack of a well-defined structure for delivering counselling services, poor communication among practitioners and stakeholders and absence of synergy among professionals.
“This has given room for inefficiency and ineffectiveness in the delivery of counselling services,” he said.
Mr Adamu said the policy would enable students to gain a better understanding of themselves and determine which career to pursue while in school.
He said the policy document streamlined the duties of educational counsellors and defines their relationship with other school personnel in counselling practice
“For almost sixty years, counsellors have been providing services which have not been efficient. The policy would enhance professionalism and guarantee the creation of conducive teaching and learning environment in schools,” he said.
He said the implementation guidelines which accompanies the policy is designed to facilitate and guide its implementation and ensure its feasibility and effectiveness as a policy.
“With the rise in truancy, poor performance, cultism, examination malpractices, drug abuse, sexual harassment and the general decline in parental care, the need for counselling services becomes imperative,” he said.
Speaking at the ceremony, the director, Educational Support Services of the education ministry, Justina Ibe, said the services of professional counsellors have become imperative in view of the rise in poor performance of students in examinations, prevalence of cultism and drug-related misconduct.
“The National Policy on Counselling was developed to enhance the capacity of learners through the promotion of counselling services in school and non -school settings in Nigeria”, she said.
Meanwhile, the Secretary-General of Counseling Association Services of Nigeria, Awoyemi Emmanuel, said the country was on the path to socio and economic recovery with the document.
The draft of the National Policy on Counselling and its implementation guidelines was made in 2016.
The National Council on Education (NCE) granted the policy approval at its 78th meeting held in Kano in 2017. NCE is the highest policymaking body of the education sector.