Sensitise students to toll-free helpline 14417: official

Sensitise students to toll-free helpline 14417: official

It disseminates information on welfare schemes, offers career guidance and psychological counselling

The School Education Department on Monday instructed heads of government and government-aided schools to increase awareness on its toll-free helpline 14417 for counselling, in the wake of a suicide attempt by a student in a government-aided school in the city.

The helpline created last year, specifically meant for students, teachers and parents, is in addition to the 104 helpline operated by the Health department. “All heads of government and government-aided schools in the districts were asked to sensitise students to the availability of these two free counselling services. A similar meeting of principals of private schools will be convened,” Chief Educational Officer S. Shanthi said.

Functional round the clock since March 1, 2018, the toll-free helpline 14417 was touted to be a pioneering initiative of the government, offering a one-stop solution to the students, teachers and parents, especially those in rural and tribal areas. The helpline is meant to disseminate useful information on the welfare schemes for school students, for providing clarity related to syllabus and examination and mentoring the students by providing career guidance and psychological counselling.

According to school heads, the utility of mobile counselling vans, a concept initiated in 2013, is on the wane. The regularity of the presence of the mobile counselling vans is missing, due to payment issues, sources said. Seventeen mobile counselling vans, equipped with televisions and digital tools, have been deployed for providing free psychological counselling to students across Tamil Nadu.

In a few other States, it is mandatory for all private schools to appoint a part-time counsellor to help students cope with stress and pressure. For instance, the Madhya Pradesh Government has made it necessary for private schools to appoint a counsellor with qualification of graduation in psychology or a graduate with diploma in psychology.

On its part, the CBSE had, in 2016, asked all its affiliated schools to fill an online questionnaire to understand the system put in place for counselling and guidance of students. The CBSE’s stand was that students facing a variety of social, interpersonal, physical and emotional problems, can maximise capacities in self-actualisation through regular guidance and counselling.

The framework for Implementation of Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA) recognizes the role of guidance and counselling services in promoting student retention and better scholastic performance in curricular areas, facilitating adjustment and career development of students, developing right attitude towards studies, self, work and others.

The framework provides that every school should have at least one teacher and preferably two teachers (one male and one female) trained in guidance and counselling.

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