Gloomy Work-Life of School Counselors in the Maldives

by Mariyam Nuzuha

Students’ well-being and mental health are two key concerns that have to be duly attended in a school. School counselors play a major role in students’ mental health. They are professionally trained to practice counseling and licensed by Allied Health Council in the Maldives. The school counselors are unfortunately treated as a dull part of a school system. No government school has properly established a school counseling system. Hence, this is also one key areas pertaining to education the government of Maldives needs to focus on, support and the development.   

Why hasn’t it been perfected in the Maldivians schools?

My research for the bachelor’s degree was based on the experience of school counselors: the challenges encountered when dealing with Attention Deficit Hyper Active students. During the data analysis, it was identified that there is no particular policy written for the school counselors. Therefore, there is no strategized – systematic structure for school counselors to operate with consistency and a the absence of a regulated monitoring system restricts the performance of school counselors. The Ministry of Education of Maldives needs to think deeply and implement a better system for counselors in schools.

Once I was a school counselor hired by an international school under the category of Ministry of Education Mandate for school counselors. It was a school that poured concern over my graduation while I was in the last year of my degree pushing me to a hell hole at the work. Later it transformed into an abusive work environment as I was abruptly asked to report to an foreign individual hired on outsourcing basis to implement a new counselling approach which absolutely had no compliance with the counseling needs of the said school. This uncommunicataed abrupt intrution was also breaching the conditions in my employment contract and the refusal to comply with it led to the termination of my employment as the school counseller. This resulted a mental break down and as a professional mental health worker, I was perceived with an obligatio not to react emotionally. Everything that I went through was because there was no open communication about school counseling and the abuse of power of school management! I have insisted the management on caring for the mental well being of the staff! Despite constant emotional abuse, I resolved to fight against these violations of the counseling practice in the school system and sought the attention of the Ministry of Education towards them. I aim to make things right and work to develop the weak areas in the field of school counseling staring from establishing a proper counseling system in the schools of Maldives!

Maldivian school counselors are not valued for their work; mostly their words are not heard by school leaders. A lot of school counselors whose names I will keep anonymous have shared the loop holes in their working environments: having no proper station to work, the absence of a filing system and a written policy are the leading issues reported. The interventions of most counselors are disregarded and they are not paid well on top of expecting them to involve in the other activities of the school. When their words are not valued, it highlights the fact that their work is not recognized! These malpractices are not well monitored by MOE.

I was a student of the first batch of counselors in the Maldives and the course is offered by Avid College. Due to personal factors, I was not able to graduate with the first batch, however, managed to finish the modules by now. Being an educator for more than 25 years, I pledge to develop school counselors and started my work in a school. I also believe that a school counselor must learn the teaching methods and classroom management and possess knowledge on educational pychology. However, I was well aware that not all counselors have a fresh degree. My experience in teaching has taught me a lot to deal with students in different age groups.

Moreover, school counselors should also be thorough with the school system. General counseling may prepare someone to deal with the mental issues, however it is relevant to understand the education systems. A school counselor requires to obtain a counselor license issued by Allied Health Counsel . This has to be coordinated by both MOE and the Ministery of Health in order to bring changes necessary as soon as possible.

The student’s brain is a developing system that requires consistant support and the Maldive’s mental health is still premature in the society. It is also a building-up system that fruit is not bearing. The irony is, knowing these facts, under a different license, school counselors have been practicing counseling in schools. For mere compliance with the rules, the school counselors are asked to practice mental health while no professional training is provided. To deal with the concerns based on students’ emotional intelligence and issues for which students have not developed coping skill yet requires a trained counselor with experience. Failing to offer counseling support for students to deal with the issues can cause the situation get worse. I have been able to get parents and teachers to agree on certain issues when addressing behavioural issues triggered neurologically. Especially children who are diagnosed with ADHD and their impulsive behaviors is neurological and needs support.  

With immediate effect, MOE needs to establish a school counseling system. By writing a policy, developing a data storage system: an app for which the access can be granted for each school. In addition,  it is necessary to organize regular meetings with MOE creating a platform to pitch the concerns of the counselors apart from bringing new ideas and approaches to help improve the schooling experience of the students in Maldives. Formal research can be funded/organized  to investigate issues in the field of school counseling for its very growth

School counselors are one of the pillars of the school. We need well-trained school counselors for this country.  

Maldivian Breakfast.

by:Mariyam Nuzuha Date:17 March 2021

Maldivian breakfast at home will be definitely different than how it served from a restaurant menue, but I would say today I taste this wonderfully delicious mashuni and kulhimas from Maagiri Hotel, Maldivian breakfast.

So delicious 😋

A bit of tweak to the dish is the extra healthy salad,mixture of fruits and omelette if compared to a dish from home plate. The wonderful taste of mashuni and kulhimas is what made me to write this post. On the previous occasion my taste of Maldivian breakfast would be different that I had tasted, mashuni was a bit dry to the mouth and now it tastes amazing. The juicy mixture of lime chilli, onion that goes with the coconut milk along with the tuna fish taste is a lovely taste.

Kulhimas, I have different view as the appearance of the color, the traditional kulhimas is red and its done with lonumirus. The color is brown yet the taste is not bad at all, I will say its good.

The other wonderful thing about sitting at Maagiri Hotel and having breakfast is the kind of live environment that brings when you are at this little corner curved cafe’. The icy transparent glass which give little blury images of the objects that pass by. The natural light of the sun brighten every corner of the floor. The background music is softer, that gives the customer a sense of relief and disconnect the busy environment. Who wouldn’t leave a compliment when you see the staff’s genuine smile and then greet you with their kind heart and thank us for visiting the small corner cafe’ of Maagiri Hotel. I would love to spend every second when I am free to ensure myself to be inspired, just to write one piece of good writing.  

The Virol-19

Chapter 1 – The mask men

She sat on the bed gazing at the lap top. The dim light hardly shows the key board letters. The power cut has been for an hour and the silence drew a fear in her heart. She woke up from the drift when the wailing of siren passed by her apartment. She hastens to close the sliding window in the sitting room. As she opened her room door and gasped for the air, the bitter poison hit her lungs. She started coughing out of the irritation in the throat. The concentration of the fog in the sitting room made her withdraw inside again. She felt helpless as she wheezed in and out those gases from her lungs.
Her legs trembled and anxiousness grew; her phone has no range. The worry piles up every second when she thinks of her parents. She is alone here as a journalist working for a paper. The whole Male’ city is on a lock down. And she has no news to write for the paper.
She took an incense and lit it up and kept beside the oil burner. The downloaded flute music that’s soothes her, played on the phone. She wanted to relax and release her thoughts in to the unknown mind. She lay-down in a hazy thought to the candle light at the corner as it was dancing to the silent wind that was ghosting around the room.
A shock of lightning bolt struck her spine. Interrupting every harmony, she was enveloping that moment. It was the banging on her door and she heard the breaking of the lock. She did neither shout and nor care to opened her room door. She dashed towards the candle and blew the flame off. Still she could hear a drill. Surely a robber would not be this loud and the land lord has the keys. It was almost 12 O’Clock ! She put the phone light on and took all her emergency escape bag from the bottom of the wardrobe.
It was right at the time she was able to save some time. The thudding of heavy boots came closer at the door then the noise stopped and she felt her heart racing under her chest at that peak of terrifying suspense. At the same time heavy banging on the door was fallowed by a rough command, ” Mam, please open the door. Its an order from the government “. Before she could reach the door knob, the door flung opened and she stood in front of the two men in quarantine suits. ” Mam, step out of the room please, we need to disinfect the room. It is a must and those who disobey to the protocol will be arrested without a question,” the man who stood behind the first man said.
She grabbed the phone and her cardigan and walked outside. The fog was still there to an extent. One man asked for her ID and she said that it was with the government for her extension of visa. Then he demanded to reveal the kind of work she was doing.She mentioned that she was working as an administrative officer . She felt something fishy as the lock of the door was broken. She knew she was no longer safe.

Empty mind ….

How can your mind be empty

When the thoughts has restless verge to emerge

They have no where to go except in your mind

They are caged, waiting for someone to touch

They are waiting for a stranger not to judge

Thoughts are connected to your emotions

They are attached to your devotion

How can you empty empty your minds ?

Its purpose is to trap the thoughts .

Come to Maldives

I am from here and I invite people around the world come and have coffee with me in this restaurant called Sea House. This is how a sunny Maldivian day look like. What you are seeing is Male’ the capital city and its so small actually you will not need a car . You can on gps or allow me to give a tour guide. I speak only English and Hindi for the moment .

You also can feel the sense of belonging and if you truely lookingvto book a cheaper stayet me also know but don’t forget the coffee . Drop me a line ..

chao

Aazaadhi for me…

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Just like the Sun all alone in the horizon I feel nothing lesser than him shining at us.

Some where there in our lives we feel “Aazaadhi”  moment. Our thoughts are buried in that concrete building , what will come next or how can we earn money , who is the staff that we are going to remove or hire ? Just random thoughts to fulfill the dreams forgetting the humanity. Today is such a day I have felt my soul is free from those fragments that I have just shared with you.

I am sitting here in a restaurant where I can see the boats departing on their scheduled times, birds hunting for food and construction work to build most amazing hotel in Male’ city. Then people marching on one line and tourists working on the roads right below that unfinished concrete building. The sun glare diminishing the colour of green vegetation and people relaxing under the sun smoking cigarette while they are having wonderful conversation. This is a kind of things I have missed for one and a half year but not today.

Imagine how much we have missed the world, do you think an arranged trip will give this ‘Azaadhi Moment’, I don’t quite think so! Why I am saying is that the thoughts will go back being in that crappy busy life that you are forced to choose. You may not be happy but always we know if we are our own boss  that  Azaadhi or freedom I talk about you will feel. There is an antidote for those whose lives are so connected to stressful life.

Take a deep breath and don’t think of anything but concentrate on the details around you as you walk. Feel and smell the environment; you will feel that gratitude of yourself. Learn to engage in the conversation of that really matters to you. These are simple few facts that your life will not be miserable. These are the stolen moments of Azaadhi that you can feel when you are in become a bubble after your graduation. The thoughts not to trap in the cage but to let go from the dirty games that people play in this world.

 

Children saying bad words…

One of the concerns of parents asking others, why my child says bad words while I didn’t show anything ?

I think living in a society we face so many challenges ,one is we cannot controle certain things like people swearing on the road. As children walk by hear them and pick up the word.

The other supring factor I saw was at the cinema parents took their children to watch spider man . Then raising middle finger and swearing were heard . Just like fairy tale a kissing seen and looking romantically to each other. These children may copy as our brain has mirror neurons . Then these children take these things to school.

Yes, school is a small community children gather for studies and other physical activities like sports are taught there. These children become more freeier than homes as the environment is surrounded by their friends of same age. They are more relaxed and apart from emotionally vulnerable children stay mostly active.

An environment like this children tend to express lot of free thoughts, they share their secrets to others . They swear to each other . For them its casual, there is no school in Maldives you cannot find this. Then the more you tried to stop them they like doing it.

According to few articles that I have read the best way was to replace the words with other words . Like ‘fish’ instead of the word they say. A word which is easier to say. I think 21st century is about time the parents be more vigilant whats happening to their chdren. What are the environments that they pick things, and you may not see you chikdren doing in at home but when their minds get free they say it. As the mind is adapted to the home environment and alert that about adults who will definitely shout at them.

Mean while parents should also consider the fact as children they are not bad , as there are rooms for improvement . They can be reformed , their brain can rewire . If we look into their future , lets not blame other children . The best is to work together to bring your child to the tough society around.

The silence is beautiful

lonely rumi

 There was once happiness and laughter among people. Then we fall into a pit that we may not come out. Someone need to scarify everything to let everything to stabilize.  That is you are the wrong doer. Then the silence is beautiful and melancholy 

I needed the silence all of a sudden
The shutting of doors that communicate
Life had hit the rock bottom
The strength absorbed by the surrounding
I don’t hear anything
When the silence spoke to me
In that beautiful darkness
Where souls fear to ponder
“Be alone with him”
Such a whimsical voice
“come sit beside me,hey girl, wake up!”
I opened my eyes to see nothing but emptiness
I can feel the whirling of the wind
Around my feet and over my body
My body merged the silence
And then I forgot about the world which I existed

~ Mary Star~

Black and white

I love black and white photography. One reason is there you can feel silent mystery. Usually , poets hide in the darkness and work their creativity . A soul like me may ponder around in the mid night . Tonight is such a night I took these pictures .