INFLUENCE OF GUIDANCE AND COUNSELLING ON STUDENTS ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT
Background of the Study
As individuals develop through stages of life and educational attainment, they encounter problems, challenges and conflict situations. These individuals also need to develop value systems, make decisions, set goals and work towards them. All these cannot be achieved without self-understanding and decision-making skills, which are not innate, but need to be developed. The need to address these challenges and to promote educational success and healthy life therefore, call for exposure to guidance and counselling programs by individuals/students. Guidance and counselling is a term usually used together which focus on assisting individuals attain self-understanding and direction, although attempts have been made by various authors to define the term separately. While Ezeji (2001), defines guidance as the help given by a person to another in making choices, adjustment and in solving problems, Denga (2001), sees guidance as a cluster of formalised educational services designed by the school to assist students to achieve self knowledge or self-understanding which is necessary for them to attain full self-development and self- realization of their potential. On the other hand, Okeke (2003), defines counselling as a helping relationship involving the counsellor and the client, in which the counsellor uses his professional knowledge and skills to assist the client attain proper development and maturity, improved functioning and ability to cope with life’s problems. Counselling is also defined according to Eze (2012), as an inter-personal relationship between a professionally trained individual (counsellor) and a troubled individual (counsellee) or individuals (counsellees) whereby the former utilises his professional skills to help the latter to be able to solve his educational, vocational and person social problems. Bark (2003), states that guidance and counselling are the assistance made available by qualified and trained persons to an individual of any age to help him to manage his own life activities, develop his own points of view, make his own decisions and carry his own burden. Based on various definitions presented above, the researcher sees counselling as a process of utilising professional skills by a person (counsellor) to assist another (client) in a person to person relationship to achieve the resolution of general life problems, in order to attain proper development and functioning. General life problems here, refers to all aspects of the individual’s life which include; personal, social, educational and vocational among others, as no single individual is said to be free from trouble or problem. Guidance and counselling is therefore designed to help individuals/students in their different problems and concerns, so that they grow up well adjusted individuals capable not only of living productive lives, but are also prepared to contribute their quota to the development of their society. Gibson, 2008 states that Guidance and counselling services prepare students to assume increasing responsibility for their decisions and grow in their ability to understand and accept the results of their choices. There are different aspects of guidance and counselling such as family guidance and counselling, marriage guidance and counselling and pastoral guidance and counselling among others. The researcher’s concern however, is on school guidance and counselling. The focus of school guidance and counselling is on three major areas namely: educational, vocational, and personal-social. Educational guidance and counselling according to Ifelunni (2003), is aimed at assisting both the students and their parents to develop educational plans that will help them plan their school work such as study habit, examination techniques and how to choose subjects, among others. According to Ifelunni, the planning is such that they benefit from their school work and hence able to progress to the next level of schooling. Ifelunni (2003) also viewed vocational counselling as aiming to assist a person match his personal attributes and his background with suitable jobs and employment opportunities. Personalsocial counselling according to Ifelunni (2003), takes care of the problems of the students that may not be educational or vocational such as boy-girl relationship, leisure time activities, personal appearance, social skills, home and family relationship, among others. The focus of guidance and counselling in school is to address the needs and concerns of students or learners at different levels of academic or educational development. Braddock (2001), states that the purpose of guidance and counselling in schools is to improve academic achievement, foster positive study attitudes and habit, increase acquisitions and application of conflict resolution skills and decrease school dropouts. The primary mission of a school’s guidance and counselling program is to provide a broad spectrum of personnel services to the students. Denga (2001), referred to these services as “cluster of formalised educational services designed by the school to assist students to achieve self-knowledge or selfunderstanding which is necessary for them to attain the fullest self-development and selfrealization of their potential”. These services include: student appraisal service, information service, counselling service, placement service, orientation service, referral service, follow-up and evaluation service, and research service. Appraisal service involves the use of tests and non-test instruments to collect, analyze and interpret data on students to understand themselves better. It also affords counsellors and significant others, the opportunity of having insight into the strengths and weaknesses of students. Information service is tailored towards equipping students with the necessary information in the areas of educational, vocational and personal social. These information are very important because they assist students to make wise decisions about life. Counselling service is a face to face interaction between the counsellor and the students, through which students are assisted towards overcoming obstacles to their academic, vocational, personal-social progress and other life needs. Placement service is concerned with assisting students to adjust to the next stage of development whether in school or on the job. Orientation service is designed to familiarize fresh students with their environment. It is a process of initiating an individual to a work or learning situation and of instructing him about rules, regulations and responsibilities, as an introduction to a new situation. Referral service affords the school counsellor an opportunity to refer the cases which he cannot handle to specialists like clinical psychologist, medical practitioner and others. Follow-up and evaluation service is designed to ascertain the extent to which the guidance programme previously carried out by the school is meeting the objectives for which it was established and also to monitor the progress of students in their work places. Research service helps the school counsellor to discover relevant information that can improve students learning and understanding. The service should be an on-going process which professional counsellors should embrace and encourage. These services constitute the core of any guidance program and should be organised to facilitate the growth and development of all students from kindergarten through post high school experiences (Erford, 2010; Erford, 2011; Neukrug, 2011).
Statement of the problem
The Federal Government of Nigeria, in its National Policy on Education (2004), has mandated every state to include guidance and counselling programs in the school curriculum. Yet one wonders with dismay the slackness with which Ekiti State Government has taken the implementation of this important education policy. This is evident in the fact that, of the 201 public secondary schools in the state which are supposed to have professional guidance counsellors, only 70 out of this number have. This has consistently affected the academic performance of the students. No wonder the state’s general performances in the external Examination of the West African Examination Council (WAEC), over the years have been low, and consequently the rate of transition of students to tertiary institutions. This then raises the following question: Does the provision of Guidance and Counselling services have influence on the academic achievement and transition rate of the students in the state? This was the issue the researcher intended to investigate.
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