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close this bookGuidance, Counselling and Youth Development Newsletter (UNESCO, 1999, 20 p.)
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View the documentHow it all started

How it all started

The guidance and counselling programme is the brainchild of a group of female Ministers of Education in Africa who realised that the time had come for the school to contribute more effectively to the upbringing and well being of young people. They arrived at this decision in 1994 as a result of attending the Pan African Conference on The Education of Girls which was held in April 1993 in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. The message of the Conference was that the school needed to give greater emphasis to those things which contribute to achievement and to the overall development of girls. These women Ministers showed great foresight. They recognized that the break down of traditional practices which supported and guided the development of young people in Africa would leave them without a sense of identity and direction. Guidance and counselling had to become an integral part of education. In preparation for the World Conference on Women, which was held in Beijing, China, in 1995, Guidance was identified in the Beijing Platform for Action as an important service for the education and development of girls.

The African programme began in 1994 with a meeting in Malawi, of Ministers of Education and Technical Officers representing 6 African countries. Since then, the programme has made tremendous strides. It started with 15 African countries and now reaches out to 22. Appropriate policies have been established. Training materials have been prepared and tested for the English-speaking countries.

Board of Governors for the Guidance and Counselling Programme with the Director General for Unesco, Mr Federico Mayor

In Francophone countries, the preparation of training materials is underway. Training programmes have been held at both local and regional levels. There is a regional programme for the training of trainers. Training is conducted through non-threatening approaches such as debates, round-table discussions and role playing. Guidance and counselling complements the teaching and learning process by helping teachers to understand their pupils better.

The Guidance and Counselling Programme for Youth Development has several interesting features. It has moved away from a traditional counselling programme which focuses primarily on careers, to one which gives consideration to the whole development of the child and to enable that child to become a fully functional and responsible adult. Thus, in addition to career guidance, it emphazises the development of self identity, good communication, goal setting, problem solving, behavioural changes, legislation concerning women, credits, etc. It is designed to co-ordinate all similar activities being undertaken in each participating country and to channel the positive results into the school system. It also permits out of school children to have access to such experiences.


The implementation of the programme has been the responsibility of the participating Governments. A Board of Governors comprising African Ministers of Education determines the policies and direction of the programme. They are supported by a Regional Technical Working Committee that carries out the decisions made by the Board. At the national level, the programme is implemented by the department responsible for guidance and counselling or by the national focal point. The programme has been implemented, from the beginning, according to the financial capabilities and costs of national Governments. The advantage is that it has remained within reach of Government budgets and this approach has improved its chances of being sustained.