In a country where career counselling is only available to a privileged few, the British Council intends to make sure a wider student population has access to it as it organised a third consecutive symposium for counsellors.
The symposium follows the two previous editions held at Beaconhouse National University, Lahore, and COMSATS Institute of Information Technology, Islamabad, in March and October 2012 respectively.
Held at the Bahria University, the two-day symposium provided an opportunity to over 200 counsellors and school heads to develop professionally and network with their counterparts from across Pakistan. Interestingly, at least a third of the participants belonged to public sector schools and colleges, where counselling is nearly non-existent
The event included an extensive panel discussion on how to improve the ailing education system by getting the priorities right besides over 35 parallel sessions on issues concerning counselling, job opportunities and the requirements of present day workplace and job markets.
“Career counselling is more than just helping students with deciding their majors and what they want to do once they graduate,” said Nadia Kamran, the head of British Council Education UK programme. “It involves helping individuals figure out who they are and what they want to get out of their education, career and life.”
She added that it was unfortunate that it has taken Pakistan a long time to recognise the importance of this role. “Our inability to help students locate resources and sources of career information is a potential barrier for their growth.”
Kamran said that they felt that counsellors need to be equipped to help their students and that it would be better idea to train them directly instead of arranging counselling sessions for the students.
Earlier, St Joseph’s Girls College principal Bernadette L Dean said that women outnumber men at nearly all places of learning and they must continue to educate themselves and give back to the community. She was speaking at a discussion on ‘Reshaping education: Re-thinking our priorities’. “Focus on your careers as it is your duty to pay back to the nation.”
School of Learning founding director Kamran Rizvi said that academic institutions must focus on collaborations and partnerships. “Egos are a barrier to building partnerships and this is particularly true for the education sector,” he said. “The bigger the institution the more inflated their ego. We must deflate our egos in order to move forward.”
Describing her experience at the symposium as wonderful, Saeeda Fancy, a career adviser at Beaconhouse School System, said that a more focused approach needs to be adopted for students at different levels of education as school counselling is quite different from college counselling.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 21st, 2013.
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