Origin And Development Of Guidance And Counseling Practice In Tanzanian Schools

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1.0. Overview

1.1. Background and History of Guidance and Counseling in General in School Practice and other setting

The history of school counseling formally started at the turn of the twentieth century, although a case can be made for tracing the foundations of counseling and guidance principles to ancient Greece and Rome with the philosophical teachings of Plato and Aristotle. There is also evidence to argue that some of the techniques and skills of modern-day guidance counselors were practiced by Catholic priests in the middle ages, as can be seen by the dedication to the concept of confidentiality within the confessional. Near the end of the sixteenth century, one of the first texts about career options appeared: The Universal Plaza of All the Professions of the World, (1626) written by Tomaso Garzoni quoted in Guez, W. & Allen, J. (2000). Nevertheless, formal guidance programs using specialized textbooks did not start until the turn of the twentieth century.

Counseling is a concept that has existed for a long time in Tanzania. We have sought through the ages to understand ourselves, offer counsel and develop our potential, become aware of opportunities and, in general, help ourselves in ways associated with formal guidance practice. In most communities, there has been, and there still is, a deeply embedded conviction that, under proper conditions, people can help others with their problems. Some people help others find ways of dealing with, solving, or transcending problems as Nwoye, (2009) prescribed in his writings. In schools, presently if the collaboration between teachers and students is good, students learn in a practical way. Young people develop degrees of freedom in their lives as they become aware of options and take advantage of them. At its best, helping should enable people to throw off chains and manage life situations effectively. Unprecedented economic and social changes have, over the years, changed the ways in which we manage our lives. Consequently, not all the lessons of the past can effectively deal with the challenges of modern times. Effective counseling, especially in institutions of learning has now become important. Boys and girls, and young men and women, need to be guided in the relationships between health and the environment, earning skills, knowledge, and attitudes that lead to success and failure in life. The need for counseling has become paramount in order to promote the well-being of the child. Effective guidance and counseling should help to improve the self-image of young people and facilitate achievement in life tasks. Counseling should empower girls and boys to participate fully in, and benefit from, the economic and social development of the nation.

2.0. Definitions of Concepts

2.1. Guidance

Guidance is an act of showing the way for some people, like adolescents, who cannot find the right path. It is directing, pointing, leading and accompanying. Guidance is saying “Yes” to someone who is asking for help. It is saying “Yes” to an invitation of someone who wants a temporary companion along life’s way.

Guidance is giving directions to the lonely, confused, unloved, the suffering, the sick and the lost. It is pointing to some possibilities of thinking, feeling and acting. It is leading the person psychologically, emotionally and even spiritually to some newer ways of meaningful living. It is accompanying those who are fearful and uncertain, those who need someone along the rugged path of life’s journey.

From an objective point of view, guidance is part and parcel of the counseling profession. It is called directive counseling. High school and even college students need guidance when they are unsure of what choices to make or what directions to take. The guidance counselor “opens up” a world of choices for these persons for them to choose from. It is like presenting the universe when all that a person sees is the lonely planet earth. The guidance counselor enlarges and widens the horizon of people who sees only a narrow path or a concealed view of that path. Thus, the focus is on possibilities and choices.

Usually, guidance occurs in schools. High school and college students avail of guidance and counseling services in their school. More often, young people are unsure of what to do, how to react or respond, and how to act in certain choices. When this occurs, they need someone older, wiser and more experienced to show them the way, to guide them. This is the role of the guidance counselor to extend assistance when necessary to those who are confused, uncertain, and needing advice. However, some adults may need guidance too.

2.2. Counseling:

Counseling is guiding and more. It is a way of healing hurts. It is both a science and an art. It is a science because to offer counsel, advice or assistance, the counselor must have the knowledge of the basic principles and techniques of counseling. The counselor must be able to use any of these basic principles and techniques as paradigms in order for him to counsel well. However, it is not enough to use know therapy these basic principles and techniques. The other important aspect is for the counselor to know how to counsel-the art of counseling. This aspect considers counseling as a relationship, as a sharing of life, in the hope that the person who is hurting will be healed. As a relationship, counseling involves the physical, emotional, and psychical or spiritual dimensions. The counselor must have the ability to relate to the counselee in an appropriate physical manner without being too intimate or too close for comfort or being too distant or aloof. The emotional dimension in counseling includes empathy, sensitivity and the ability to interpret non-verbal clues of the counselee in order to understand unresolved complexes or pent-up feelings. The psychical or spiritual dimension embraces the counselee’s “soul-content”—what lies inside. This is what is called the interiority of the person. The counselor must have the gift or grace of catching a glimpse of the interior world of the person, particularly his spiritual condition, for this is very important in healing the person’s hurts.

2.3. Other Definitions of the Concepts

Biswalo (1996) defines guidance as a term used to denote the process of helping an individual to gain self understanding and self direction (self decision-making) so that he can adjust maximally to his home, school or community environment. This process, however, depends on counseling. He also defines counseling as a process of helping an individual to accept and use information and advice so that he can either solve his present problem or cope with it successfully. He goes further remarking that sometimes the process helps the individual to accept unchangeable situation for example, loss of dearly loved ones and to some extent change it in its favour rather than letting himself be overcome by the situation. Guez and Allen (2000) remarked that it is difficult to think of a single definition of counseling. This is because definitions of counseling depend on theoretical orientation. Counseling is a learning-oriented process, which occurs usually in an interactive relationship, with the aim of helping a person learn more about the self, and to use such understanding to enable the person to become an effective member of society. Counseling is a process by means of which the helper expresses care and concern towards the person with a problem, and facilitates that person’s personal growth and brings about change through self-knowledge. Counseling is a relationship between a concerned person and a person with a need. This relationship is usually person-to-person, although sometimes it may involve more than two people. It is designed to help people to understand and clarify their views, and learn how to reach their self-determined goals through meaningful, well-informed choices, and through the resolution of emotional or interpersonal problems. It can be seen from these definitions that counseling can have different meanings.

3.0. Origin of Guidance and Counseling Practice in Pre-Colonial Era

Counseling in Tanzania in different forms and with different interpretations, has existed in societies for a long time before colonial era. The differences and contradictions in present-day, have their origin in the social and historical forces that have shaped modern culture. In Tanzania people in all societies, and at all times, have experienced emotional or psychological distress and behavioural problems. In each culture, there have been well established ways and methods of helping individuals with their problems. However, there are no sufficient written sources about the origin of guidance and counseling practice in Tanzanian schools. But like other places before colonial era there were outstanding unique elements which held the societies together in their livelihood. The elements include the extended family system, including the clan and the tribe, chieftaincy, taboos, various forms of initiation and close links with ancestors and elders.

The village is the focal point of society. While each one of these elements is important, only a few are used to illustrate the role of guidance and counseling in present-day Tanzanian societies. Basically, traditional chiefs had multiple roles which included serving as a symbol of authority and as a regulator. Since these roles were accepted and respected by all, there was a clear direction in the day-to-day affairs of society. The elders, the chief included, were a valuable source of guidance and counseling for boys and girls. In most cases, the chiefs were regarded as a vital link between ancestors and the present generation. This link was strengthened by the rituals, ceremonies and taboos attached to them. It was easy to guide and counsel the young, since the rituals or ceremonies were also aimed at preparation for adult roles in society. The extended family, the clan, and the village, made society supportive. No individual regarded him/herself as alien. Counseling was readily sought and provided. The forms of guidance and counseling involved were given advice and sharing wisdom.

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