Binod Bhattarai is the director of Eduhub Institute Pvt. Ltd. He runs a consultancy for abroad studies but he claims that he provides career counseling along with helping them with the procedures of abroad study.
How does counseling in school help students? why is it important?
Counseling helps them to fill the gap between their present selves and the future. It enables them to decide what they want to do in the future. Counseling establishes an environment where students are motivated to investigate and research for their careers as much as they can. When they learn that they have to think for themselves, they start looking for ways to make things happen.
Looking at our education system, there is a fixed syllabus. The courses, the credit hours, and the time period within which the syllabus is to be completed are fixed. Even the students are made to learn how much they can score in the finals by covering a portion of the notes given by the teacher. That way, students never get to think for themselves, they surely are studying but they are not learning. Schools are manufacturing graduates who are not able to think about what career they want to pursue in the future.
There are many students who have no idea what to do in life, how do you counsel them?
Before looking at a person’s academic performance, it is important to read their emotional well being as well. When a student completes his +2 education, most of them are in a position where they experience fear or hesitation or they lack the confidence to express their interests and goals. They lack an environment where they are under no pressure or influence to pursue a certain career.
So, what I do is I ask them to honestly answer two questions: “What you like to do or want to do?” and “Where do you see yourselves, 5 or 10 years down the line?” A lot of students come up with certain answers like they see themselves studying a certain subject. Some have a vivid picture in their mind of what they want to become like; being a finance analyst, a social worker, a businessman, and many more.
But there are some who have no answer to this; by then we can identify that they have certain issues. We can tell a lot about a student by how she answers these questions. Once they start expressing themselves, I stand to help. By pointing down what the student has to say, we identify the points where they are stuck at or having problems. Instead of suggesting them to choose a particular field, I enable them to make the choice themselves. My motive is to make them able to choose what they want to pursue.
Does your counseling only limit to career guidance, or does it cover psychological counseling as well?
Yes, of course. First of all, we build an emotional attachment with the student. We ask them a series of questions like what they like, what they feel about themselves, and their academics. We also ask them whether they think whatever they are doing is enough for them. While answering these questions, some students may lie as well. But in course of answering the series of questions, the lie unfolds. Then we talk about social issues like what kind of expectations their parents have from them, how their relationship with their family is, who they love the most, and who they hate the most. After that, we go to the academics part. They are asked about the subject they like the most and the one they find hard and the reason behind it.
The questions also cover what they want to be in the future and whether it is self-decided or by parents or teachers or others. With the answers to these questions, we get to see a clear picture of where they are going and how they are carrying themselves in that direction? Depending on the situations they are going through or the phase they are in, we provide necessary guidance and help.
What is the scenario of career counseling in Nepali schools?
The most important thing that is often neglected in Nepali schools, however, is of utmost importance is “having a guidance counselor”. There are a decent number of good and well-renowned schools that provide quality education and the best facilities. Out of them, only 4-5 schools have a guidance counselor. Just 30 minutes back, on the way, I was having a conversation with the students of a highly reputed school. That school gets almost 1000s of applications for admission in Grade 1 only. I was surprised to know that even they didn’t have a guidance counselor. I asked her what she wanted to do after completing school; she moved her hands in the air intending “she doesn’t know”. This is the condition of students graduating from one of the best schools; you can easily guess what other schools might be offering.
What role does a guidance counselor have in school?
In school, there are lots of students going through numerous problems. Some are finding difficulty coping with the studies, some feel they just can’t study and think of dropping out. While some have problems where they feel useless, some have difficulty thinking about careers. A guidance counselor can identify such problems of students and help them overcome it. S/he can understand the emotional part of the student and help them discover themselves and solve their issues. With the correct guidance, a guidance counselor can also enable the ability to think out of the box in students.
Nepali schools might be focusing on providing better facilities, better teachers, and been doing better in academics. But apart from the syllabus or curriculum, they don’t focus on understanding the students. In today’s time, guidance counselors are of dire need. Gone are the days, when there used to be a Guru and pupils who followed exactly what they were told. Times have changed. The daily lectures won’t suffice. There are different dimensions to education which we have to explore and engage the students. Now it’s imperative that we start listening and understanding the students so that they can better themselves in every field. They should be able to properly plan their career. If they can do so, tomorrow they can contribute to a better Nepal.