CHALLENGES FACED BY PEER COUNSELLORS IN PROMOTING BEHAVIOUR CHANGE AMONG PUBLIC SECONDARY SCHOOL STUDENTS IN MERU SOUTH DISTRICT, KENYA
CONNY KAARI KAARIA
The current social-economic changes, technological developments and educational demands have contributed greatly to a number of challenges which have affected the entire society, students inclusive. In view of this, the Ministry of Education recommended the establishment of the Peer Counselling Programme in schools to assist in promoting behaviour change among students. However, despite its establishment, the overall behaviour change among students has not been realized. This has put to question the effectiveness of peer counselling in promoting behaviour change. The purpose of the study was to determine the challenges faced peer counsellors in promoting behaviour change among public secondary school students in Meru South District. The target population was 600 peer counsellors and 30 teacher counsellors in Meru South District. Purposive sampling method was used to obtain 15 teacher counsellors while simple random sampling method was used to obtain 255 peer counselors; therefore, a total sample of 270 respondents were involved. The study was based on four research objectives and related research questions. Questionnaires, which were validated through professional guidance, were used for data collection. Piloting was done in 3 schools which involved 3 teacher counsellors and 25 peer counsellors. Reliability coefficients of 0.82 and 0.78, respectively, were obtained. The data collected were analyzed using descriptive statistics namely: percentages and frequency counts and by use of a computer programme, the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) versions 17.0. The research established that there existed numerous areas of counselling services provided
by the peer counsellors. There were also certain challenges faced by peer counsellors in promoting behaviour change among students, such as personal unresolved issues, lack of resources, poor relationship with the other students and inappropriate training. The recommendation of the study was that peer counsellors needed to be well equipped in both skills and knowledge to enable them handle counselling issues effectively. Teacher counsellors were also required to create awareness on peer counselling among students and help them develop a positive attitude towards it. These findings were hoped to be helpful to the Ministry of Education and the school administrators in establishing effective peer counselling programmes.