A total of 35 Ministry of Education, Heritage and Arts (MEHA) staff and teachers from the Central, Western and Northern Divisions graduated with a Diploma of Counselling on Monday 11 January 2021. They now have new skills to help them support children in their classrooms reach their full potential.
The Diploma of Counselling, delivered by the regional training institution, the Australia Pacific Training Coalition (APTC) and co-funded by MEHA and the Australian Government, was administered as part of the Ministry’s Student Support Services Pilot program, which is testing strategies to improve student support services including counselling in schools, prevention programs, professional development for teachers and community outreach.
The Diploma was delivered over two years, with teachers and MEHA staff undertaking training in two-week blocks, in between teaching and Ministry commitments.
With their new skills and an internationally recognised qualification, the graduates will work as counsellors in schools where they will work with students, teachers and parents on personal and psychological issues using established counselling tools and methods.
While congratulating the graduates at an awards ceremony at the Grand Pacific Hotel yesterday, the Minister of Education, Heritage and Arts, Hon. Rosy Akbar said, “Counselling is a high priority for the Ministry of Education, especially with child abuse and neglect, sexual harassment, violence, substance abuse, and other issues on the rise. So, we need to ensure we are able to address these issues within schools, at home and in our communities. We envision that the skills and knowledge that you graduates have attained during your two-year training will help make schools safe for all our children and provide a healthy, enabling learning environment”.
“The Ministry is delighted to have partnered with the Australian Government through APTC and the Australia’s Support to Fiji’s Education Sector Program to make this initiative a success. We look forward to continue working together in the area of mental health support.”
The Minister added that “As children in the areas affected by TC Yasa prepare to go back to schools, today’s graduates as student support officers, will play a key role in supporting the resilience of children, and enabling them to bounce back and return to normality.”
Australia’s Acting High Commissioner to Fiji, Ms Anna Dorney said, “The Australian and Fiji Governments both recognise that a country’s economy relies on an educated and healthy workforce, which stems from a robust education system. Australia is proud to have supported the training of these teachers and MEHA staff who will go on to make a difference in the lives of Fijian children, their families and Fiji as a whole. We are committed to continue supporting the Ministry’s mission to provide quality learning and teaching in Fiji’s schools.”
The ceremony also included five special awards for graduates who were reflective, courageous, inclusive, engaging and embodying learners during the course.