Anna Catherina Islamic Complex and the Anjuman support schools-based counselling

Dear Editor,

The Anna Catherina Islamic Complex (ACIC) and The Guyana United Sadr Islamic Anjuman (GUSIA) have joined the call for the establishment of schools-based counselling and have expressed their full support to the call coming from the Guyana Teachers Union (GTU) for government to accept the proposal to utilize teachers within the public school system as school counsellors.

Education Minister, Dr Rupert Roopnaraine, had indicated his intention to establish a central counselling body and have trained counsellors in each school across the country. The Minister had stated that there was a grave need for counsellors within the schools. The idea of school counsellors was also touted by the social action group, The Caribbean Voice, in the local media a while ago.

President General of ACIC, Hakeem Khan stated that in many countries, such as the UK, school-based counselling is one of the most common forms of psychological therapy for young people. There is an increasing awareness of the role that schools can play in helping to promote emotional health for children and young people and by addressing mental health issues, including psychological and behavioural problems. “Evaluations of school-based counselling services from across the UK have shown that young people and their teachers report that school-based counselling can lead to positive improvements in young people’s capacity to study and learn; it helps them to get things ‘off their chest’ so that they can concentrate more fully in class.”

Mr Khan opined that young people who converse honestly with a counsellor about their difficulties, can be moved towards possible solutions to their problems. The counselling’s ‘in house’ location makes it easy for young people to access, and it is open to all students, regardless of the nature of their problems. School-based counselling can serve as an early intervention, provide access to timely help and reduce the possibility of more difficult issues later. It offers young people an avenue where they can find ways to address their problems and also feel less overwhelmed, stigmatized and alone. Young people will have someone to talk to.

Mr Khan called for the implementation of the proposal in the secondary schools first, and pointed to the many benefits it will bring to young people, parents and guardians, teachers and the community.

The organizations offer their support to the programme, especially in getting the message out to the communities using the network of masjids across Guyana. “Young Muslims… share the common problems affecting young people in our society and therefore these organizations see this proposal for school based counselling as beneficial to all and deserving of total support.” The organizations call on all religious and social groups to come out in support of the proposal.

Yours faithfully,

Reyaz Hussein

Public Relations Executive

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