Analysis of guidance and counseling programme at Thika High School for the blind
Irungu, Mary Wangari
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Youth with visual impairments need guidance and counseling more than their sighted peers because in addition to the normal turmoil of adolescence, they experience other problems emanating from their disability. The purpose of this study was to analyze the guidance and counseling programme in Thika High School for the Blind. This is the only special residential secondary school for students with visual impairments in Kenya. The study looked at the content of the existing guidance and counseling programme. It identified problems faced by students and analyzed how the teacher counselor identified youth with specific problems and tried to solve those problems. It also tried to find out if the guidance and counseling personnel were adequately trained to handle youth with visual impairments, how supportive the administration, teachers and support staff were towards the guidance and counseling department and how responsive the students were towards the programme. The research adopted Erikson's psychoanalytic theory (1975), in which he divided the life cycle into eight stages of development. The main interest of this study was the fifth stage of Erikson's theory, "Identity versus Role Diffusion", under which adolescents fall. At adolescent stage children with visual impairments may experience a major crisis because many have faced rejection, negative attitudes and social stigma from family, peers and the society. The researcher adopted an observational descriptive survey design. A sample of 22 subjects comprising 16 students, 4 teachers, the deputy principal and the head of guidance and counseling department were selected through purposive sampling and simple random sampling. The study dealt with few numbers because of low incidence population among the girls who are totally blind in form 2N and 3N. Data were collected using questionnaires for students and teachers, an interview schedule for the deputy principal, unstructured interviews for students and observation checklists for human resources and physical facilities. The obtained data were analyzed through descriptive statistics in three stages: data reduction, data display and conclusion drawing. After analyzing data and drawing conclusions, the researcher made various recommendations including suggestions for further research in other areas of disabilities. The major finding of the study is the need to strengthen guidance and counseling services in Thika High School for the Blind. An attempt has been made to put guidance and counseling services in place but there is limited knowledge as to what is expected. There is no specific time set apart for individual guidance and counseling and very limited voluntary response of students to individual guidance and counseling services in the school. The study also found out that there had been no school-based inservice courses, workshops or seminars in guidance and counseling, organized for the members of the school. Due to these findings, the researcher recommended provision of skills through training, in-service courses and workshops in guidance and counseling. The department also needs more attention and financial support from the school administration and from the Ministry of Education.