THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: A group of motivated teachers has set an example by reviving a hugely successful ‘peer-group empowerment programme’, which hit a roadblock this year due to non-availability of funds.
The ‘Disha Soochi’ project, launched by the National Service Scheme (NSS) wing of Vocational Higher Secondary Education (VHSE) Directorate, was a huge success last year.
The project, implemented in association with the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM), empowered over 500 students across the state to become guidance counsellors of their colleagues.
Though conceptualised only for a year, a group of VHSE teachers, most of whom are closely associated with NSS activities, decided that ‘Disha Soochi’ should continue and revived it by raising funds on their own.
“Last year, it was professional counsellors who directly trained students to become peer counsellors. This time around, teachers have voluntarily come forward to get themselves trained by professional counsellors.
“These teachers will then impart training to select students to make them peer counsellors,’’ said E Fasil, state programme co-ordinator of VHSE-NSS.
“The honorarium to be paid to the professional counsellors was raised by the teachers on their own. By involving in this project without any extra remuneration, we wanted to prove that pure dedication towards a particular cause can ensure its success despite shortage of funds,’’ said Priya, a school teacher of GVHSS Kadappuram, Chavakkad, who is part of the team.
A total of 38 teachers have now successfully undergone training in counselling on various aspects such as career guidance, and a host of issues affecting teenagers.
By the end of 2015, around 100 teachers will be trained who will, in turn, impart training to at least five to six students in each class in schools across the state to equip them to become peer counsellors. “It has been proven that around 70 per cent of issues facing teenagers can be tackled by peer counselling. Those cases which cannot be handled by them will be passed on to trained teachers who will attend to the students in need of help,’’ said Yakub T M, co-ordinator of ‘Disha Soochi’ project. Intoxicant use, sexual abuse of teenagers, addiction to pornography and a host of issues have been successfully addressed by the intervention of peers, as teenagers are most comfortable with those of the same age group. he said.
Meanwhile, a fresh project on the lines of ‘Disha Soochi 2013’ has been submitted to the NRHM for budgetary support this year and the officials of Vocational Higher Secondary Education-NSS are hopeful of a nod, going by the success of the project in the state.