Education Ministry bolsters counselling services

February 28, 2024 4:35 pm

[Source: Fiji Ministry Education/ Facebook]

The Ministry of Education is taking significant steps to address the growing need for student support services, with over 1,500 students accessing counselling in the past three years.

Speaking at the inauguration of the Student Support Services Hub for the Eastern Division at Levuka Public School, Education Minister Viliame Gavoka acknowledged the increasing challenges students face in terms of psychosocial and mental health.

He outlined the ministry’s commitment to strengthening counselling services in schools to fill the gap left by the abolishment of corporal punishment.

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Gavoka says this is a way forward that will provide a platform for expanding this important service to the students in Fiji.

He adds that last year, 359 students accessed counselling services at counselling centers, of whom 243 were males and 116 were females, including 66 students from primary and 293 from secondary schools.

Gavoka says the common presenting problems included violent behaviour towards others, drug intake at school, sex-related offenses, mental health issues, and other negative behaviors arising from social media use.

He adds that counselling sessions are recommended to take place in a safe space where children can freely and confidently share their problems without being judged or criticized.

The Minister says they are extremely happy that the Australian Government, through the Fiji Program Support Facility, has been supporting the Ministry of Education in this initiative by training school counsellors, providing technical support, funding trainings, printing student support booklet guides, and setting up four disability-friendly Student Support Services Hubs.

The Ministry of Education further announced the deployment of a full-time counsellor to the Levuka hub to handle more complex cases referred from schools in Ovalau and nearby Lomaiviti islands.