After completing two years of rigorous postgraduate studies at Lesley University in the USA, 13 local school welfare officers, guidance counsellors and social workers graduated on Saturday with Master of Arts Degrees in Counselling and Psychology, Expressive Therapies and Mindfulness Studies.
The graduates are Oslyn Crawford, Juanita Cameron, Anand Sharma, Latoya Hillman, Pricilla Gonsalves, Vickchand Ramphal, Sewpaul Persaud, Stephen Bactawar, Onika Pearson, Sharon Dyall, Kaycina Jardine, Haimraj Hamandeo, and Azharuddin Zahaur, the Education ministry said in a press release. They are from the Education, Labour, Human Services and Social Security ministries respectively.
The students expressed gratitude to the government and United Nations Children’s Fund for affording them the opportunity to study at the Cambridge, Massachusetts university. They also pledged to use their newly acquired knowledge to do their jobs more effectively and make a more meaningful impact on children’s lives.
Sharon Dyall, a Senior Guidance and Counselling Officer in the Education Ministry in Region Three, said she plans to use her newly acquired knowledge to increase her “efficiency and effectiveness in trauma sensitive assessment, intervention and counselling techniques to address issues such as depression, domestic violence, suicide, learning and behavioural problems.”
“My experience as a student at Lesley University is one that has had a tremendous impact on my total life. The courses were all interconnected and interrelated and served as an excellent means for social work professionals. Whether the course was Power, Privilege & Oppression, Ways of Knowing, Expressive Arts as Therapy, the hands on experience made it easier to relate to clients and their situation and apply an intervention from a point of knowledge and experience, graduate Oslyn Crawford said.
Kaycina Jardine praised the professors’ patience during her course of study. She too pledged to use her newly acquired knowledge and skills acquired to make a meaningful contribution in the areas of student welfare and counselling.
“Apart from increasing my knowledge base in the areas of counseling and psychology, the experience at the Lesley University was very inspiring and fulfilling, Juanita Cameron said. “As a social services provider, I feel better equipped to handle mental health disorders.”
Over the past 10 years the education ministry recognised the increasing need for a wide range of social services and expanded the support services offered to students. It recruited an unprecedented number of school welfare officers and guidance counsellors and installed them within the sector countrywide. Further, recognizing the dearth of specialized postgraduate training available to these professionals at the University of Guyana, the ministry established a partnership with Lesley University – which is internationally renowned for its wide-ranging courses in the area of social work – to facilitate some of its leading social work professionals obtaining advanced level training in this field.
According to the ministry, after intense discussions Lesley University designed the programme especially for the Guyana situation, with specific focus on the areas of counselling and psychology, expressive therapies and mindfulness studies. To qualify for the programme, the participants needed to have a degree in social work, education or a related field and had been delivering support services to students and teachers in the education system or children who were being served by the Childcare and Protection Agency. Prospective candidates also had to write a persuasive essay justifying their eligibility for the programme.
The ministry extended congratulations to the graduates.
The graduates with Education Minister Priya Manickchand (fifth from right in front row) and university officials. (Ministry of Education photo)