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JIS News

The island’s guidance counsellors will meet in Montego Bay for three days this week to discuss school counselling and challenges facing the profession, as the Jamaica Association of Guidance Counsellors in Education (JAGCE) stages its 11th annual conference.
The event, which is slated for the Holiday Inn Resort from December 9 to 11, is also expected to attract counsellors from overseas. It will be held under the theme: ‘Overcoming Obstacles: Committed to Purpose’.
Speaking in an interview with JIS News, President of JAGCE, Mrs. Jennifer Willie, said that the theme of the conference serves as an appeal to the counselling fraternity to persevere even in the face of difficulties.
The event, she said, will provide an opportunity for members to renew and improve their skills.
“The organisation senses the need to rally the counsellors for renewal and commitment to service. The challenges faced by school counsellors over the years in dealing with the many issues confronting the youths, and even more so from a professional standpoint during 2009, have somehow managed to threaten the very foundation of good practice and excellence in service,” Mrs. Willie said.
Turning to the conference agenda, she said that the highlight of the opening day will be the staging of the Exemplary Guidance Programme Awards ceremony, which will recognize the six most outstanding programmes that were undertaken in each of the six education regions last year.
“One of the 36 schools will emerge as overall winner and cop the top programme award. The Guidance and Counselling Unit of the Ministry of Education has sought, over the past number of years, to recognise excellence in service and as such, sees this as an excellent way of placing the spotlight on school counselling, and give (counsellors) the support to perform well amidst the challenges,” she told JIS News.
As for the way forward, Mrs. Willie said that school counselling in Jamaica is “strategically positioned to take on new dimensions”.
“The long-desired classification and status of counsellors is now much closer than it has ever been before. It is crucial therefore, for us to encourage everyone to wholeheartedly embrace this year’s conference theme,” she said.

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