JIS News

The Cambridge High School in St James has been selected as the most outstanding guidance and counselling institution by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Culture.
The school received the top honour at an awards function held on Wednesday (Sept. 28) at the Caymanas Golf and Country Club in St. Catherine, where five other regional institutions were also recognised for exemplary guidance and counselling programmes. These are the Queen’s School in Kingston for region 1; Norwich Primary in Port Antonio for region 2; Lime Hall Primary in St. Ann for region 3; New Forest Primary & Junior High in St. Elizabeth for region 5; and from region 6, St. Mary’s College.
All six schools received trophies and a cheques for $20,000 to assist in development works, while Yvonne Scott, guidance counsellor at the winning region 4 school, was presented with a trophy.
A total of 36 other schools participated in the competition, which was held as part of the Ministry’s Exemplary Guidance Programme.
Introduced in 2003, the initiative is intended to recognise the excellent guidance and counselling programmes in primary, all-age, junior high, secondary and independent schools in the six education regions. A key objective of the competition is to boost confidence, proficiency and esteem among practitioners, and advance the profession of guidance and counselling in Jamaica.
To be considered for the awards, the programmes should meet certain criteria, including exposing students to critical and current issues such as HIV/AIDS education; violence education and substance abuse; possess significant elements of community outreach/intervention and should be implemented by a counsellor, who is a member of the Jamaica Association of Guidance Counsellors in Education (JAGCE).
Education Minister Maxine Henry-Wilson, in her address at the presentation ceremony, noted that guidance counselling was the “heartbeat” of a school’s operation and that guidance counsellors were the “glue” in a school community.
“Guidance counsellors are not all about assisting students in need or trouble,” she said, “as there’s a whole other side to what they do”.
“They also do career guiding, (deal with) personal development issues, interpersonal diagnostics and referrals as well as welfare issues, which include sourcing lunch for needy students, community bonding and even parent searches,” she pointed out.
Principal of the winning school, Rhudal McFarlane, in lauding the work of Mrs. Scott, noted that she was “a critical conduit for resolving all manner of difficulties” faced by students, which made his job as a senior administrator much easier.
“They are not going to come to me with some of the sensitive problems they have to deal with at home, which are challenging them, but they will go to the guidance counsellor and that’s all right because she is very competent. The children feel more relaxed and we work as a team,” he stated.
For her part, Mrs. Scott, said she was deeply moved and honoured that her efforts and the school’s work was being recognized in such a tangible way. “I see it (guidance counselling) as something I do on a daily basis to assist individuals as a mother and friend, someone the students can relate to,” she said.She noted that those in the profession served as mentors and as examples of “what is right, what is fair and what should be done.”
Mrs. Scott pointed out that her work was not limited to students as even the surrounding community benefited from her interventions.