Opinion

From Chaplains To Counsellors

REITERATING THE NEED FOR PROFESSIONAL help. Before opposing any change, we need to consider the overall implications if we don’t make the change.
15 Jul 2019 14:51
From Chaplains To Counsellors
The Queen Victoria School chapel.

Opinion:

Some people have misunderstood what I said last week about the phasing out of Government schools’ chaplains to be replaced by professional counsellors.

They said the chaplain’s position should be retained because they offered spiritual guidance that no other person could. They asked why schools can’t keep chaplains and professional counsellors together.

Many students are members of different churches, some with varying beliefs and practices. They may not subscribe to the way the chaplains conduct their services and ministering, but they are compelled by the school rules to toe the line. This is not in harmony with the spirit and principles of a secular state as guaranteed by the 2013 Constitution.

People are free to exercise their religious beliefs provided they do not impose them on others. Individual churches should take care of their flocks.

If they are true to their faith they will travel to the schools every Sunday and conduct services in the school’s premises or outside of the schools. This change can happen if it us sanctioned by the schools.

I had said previously that chaplains had done wonderful work and must be recognised for their efforts. The Methodist Church should be thanked for assigning the chaplains.

At Queen Victoria School

When I attended Queen Victoria School most of the students were Methodists and it made sense that our chaplain was a Methodist. Today, it’s different. Students come from different Christian denominations. If those churches can look after the spiritual welfare of their students, the schools can focus on the secular and temporal interests of the students. They can visit the students at school or can use modern technology to keep in touch with them. Instructional material can be sent electronically or delivered through face to face meeting on Skype. It can also be a cost saving exercise.

Paid by schools

It is understood that the chaplains are paid by the schools. But the overriding factor in this change is that the schools need more than chaplains. They need professional counsellors who will focus on the physical, mental and emotional side to compliment the spiritual aspects.

It is a holistic approach to education.

Sometimes we forget that there is a temporal side to the spiritual. When that is neglected it will affect the overall development of a child in education. Professional counsellors are trained to diagnose problems facing a student. They then refer the student to specialists for treatment. They will fulfill their roles in counselling and refer the cases beyond their scope of practice to specialists.

Early intervention

Early intervention can save a student from a life of failure and misery.

Modern research has enabled us to be able to detect and treat illnesses, which may be mental in nature, and allow people to enjoy a quality of life which was not possible not long ago.

I wish to reiterate here the importance of mental health and it covers a wide range of human behaviour. Because of the stigma associated with St Giles Hospital people are reluctant to talk about mental health.

Any behaviour that is not normal should be registered on the mental health monitoring system.

When a student goes on anti-social behaviour at school, alarm bells should start ringing and appropriate action is needed.

This is where professional counsellors are needed. They can deal with drug use, smoking, abuse and sex cases.

So, before you go out and oppose the change consider the overall implications if we do not make the change.

Edited by Naisa Koroi
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