Driubalavu: Need for counselling services in schools

WITH the increase in sexual related and violence related offences in schools, there is a need for Government to strengthen counselling services in schools.

This was recommended by Mesake Driubalavu, a retired schoolteacher and the former director of the National Substance Abuse Advisory Council (NSAAC), during the National Budget public consultation at the De Vos on the Park hotel in Suva yesterday.

Mr Driubalavu said in 2016, NSAAC analysed 6627 various types of offences that was committed by students in that year. He said 95 per cent of the offences were sexual in nature.

He said before he retired, a total of 29 counselling positions in numerous schools were in place but all the positions were disestablished in 2015.

Mr Driubalavu said the Ministry of Education then decided to set up student support services.

“Counsellors were then based in 19 school districts as well as the divisional education offices, I think to date there are only a few counsellors in these education districts,” Mr Driubalavu said.

“My plea is for the Ministry of Education to look at strengthening the counseling services in schools and the establishment of a student support services with the recruitment of people who could do the work in the counseling of students.

“This is not the full solution to the problems because we will need to go down to communities and we need to work with parents, faith based organisations to address these issues.”

He also stated that NSAAC could also offer grants to organisations that could also provide counselling services for students.

Attorney-General and Minister for Economy and Education Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum concurred with the issues and the recommendation made by Mr Driubalavu.

He said most students in Fiji now had a Facebook account.

“There seems to be at this point in time some of the negative effects of Facebook is there too, social media,” Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said.

“So we need to be able to ensure what kind of values we have, which means we also regulate it.”

He said the Online Safety Bill would work to ensure this.