Experts conducting first-of-its-kind training programme for lecturers

Sixty-two arts and science and teacher education colleges in the district will have student counsellors from Monday, thanks to a training programme organised by the district administration by selecting one teacher from each college.

The training, which began on November 11, will conclude on Saturday. The resource persons are experts from the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS), Bangalore, and other premier institutions. The trained counsellors will begin work in their colleges and submit monthly reports to the Joint Director of Collegiate Education who, in turn, will forward them to the Director of Collegiate Education, Chennai.

The counsellors will undergo another intensive training after six months. The district administration plans to train engineering college teachers after obtaining clearance from the All India Council for Technical Education.

According to C. Ramasubramanian, State Nodal Officer for District Mental Health Programme, training of college teachers as counsellors was proposed and implemented by Collector L. Subramanian. He said the Collector was shocked to find that most of the colleges here had not implemented a 2011 G.O. mandating establishment of on-campus counselling cells headed by qualified counsellors to help psychologically disturbed students. “What we are doing now in Madurai is the first of its kind in the State. The details of this model will be placed before the Higher Education Department for replication across the State,” he added.

Helen Christina, Assistant Professor of Zoology, Sri Meenakshi Government College for Women, and the convenor of the training programme, said incidents of students committing suicides or indulging in crimes such as the recent murder of a college principal in Tuticorin could be controlled to a great extent if the counsellors detected behavioural changes among students and guide them properly.

A craving for identity

“Adolescents crave for identity. We are training the counsellors to figure out the students’ strengths and help them make the most of their strengths. Students must be made to understand that there is no point in brooding over their weaknesses,” she said. The district administration plans to conduct similar programmes for two more batches of teachers from the 62 colleges. .