A Professor of Counsellor Education in the University of Ilorin, Adeyemi Ibukunoluwa Idowu, has said that unless the field of Guidance and Counselling is accorded its pride of place in the Nigerian educational system, the nation may continue to witness unfulfilled promises and unrealised goals of national development.
Professor Idowu, who made this submission last Thursday (March 27, 2014), while delivering the 145th Inaugural Lecture of the University, pointed out that “development is a factor of creative and productive human mind, which cannot flower and blossom without proper guidance and counselling.”
In the well-attended lecture, entitled “Raising the Bar: The Counsellors’ Mandate,” the don said, “The correlation between counselling and manpower development is no longer in dispute. An illiterate society will always be a poverty-stricken society. In this day and age, we know that no literate society is classified as underdeveloped, just as no illiterate society is classified as developed. Therefore, unless the issue of counselling is adequately and appropriately dealt with, there is the danger that Nigeria will, for long, continue to be a nation of unrealised hopes and unfulfilled promises.
Lamenting that Guidance and Counselling is yet to receive a prominent place in the National Policy on Education, the inaugural lecturer said it is no surprise that guidance counsellors, if and when they are employed in schools, are used for various extra-guidance activities including issuance of certificates to students, drawing time-tables, acting as substitute teachers, acting as school disciplinarians, completing report cards or assisting generally in the principal’s office. This, he noted, should not be so.
Prof. Idowu, who is the Provost of Adeyemi College of Education, Ondo, however, pointed out that Guidance and Counselling is not limited to the school setting, noting that it finds relevance in all sectors of human endeavour, including banks, industries, hospitals, social welfare centres, ministries, government parastatals, and even in the family setting.
The don therefore advised all these sectors to establish counselling units, manned by professional counsellors to cater for the social, emotional and career needs of their workers, while social welfare centres such as remand homes and prisons should offer correctional/rehabilitation counselling services for inmates.
Prof. Idowu urged the Federal Government to boost the training of counsellors in the country through the provision of funds and other resources to some selected universities across the six geo-political zones of the country to mount specially designed training programmes for counsellors.
The don also advised governments at all levels to employ and post trained counsellors to all schools where they would practise on full-time basis, stressing that “career masters/mistresses, though useful as para-professionals in the guidance programme, should not be made to function as counsellors.”
Prof. Idowu recommended that a whole section should be devoted to Counselling in the next review of the National Policy on Education, adding that, Federal and State Ministries of Education should allocate a portion of their annual budget to the implementation of counselling services.
The counselling expert submitted that universities in the country should be made to set up Counselling and Human Development Centres (CHDC) within a short time, failing which they should not be granted full institutional accreditation by the National Universities Commission (NUC).