TEACHERS must upgrade their skills to identify the underlying conditions that contribute to the rise in learning difficulties, said psychiatrist Dr Selvam Karuppiah.
“In today’s environment where it is common for both parents to work, schoolchildren spend more time interacting with their teachers than their families.
“At the same time, our schoolchildren face a lot of problems that have a direct impact on their learning abilities. Hence, teachers must upgrade their skills to identify the underlying conditions that contribute to the rise in learning difficulties,” he said.
Dr Selvam was speaking to 68 teacher-counsellors who attended a day-long workshop organised by the Klang District Education Office and Quest International University Perak (QIUP) at its Petaling Jaya office at QI Tower, PJ8, at Jalan Barat, Petaling Jaya recently.
He said psychiatry was not all about “a state of madness”, and that some of the problems affecting school-going children were absenteeism, fear of books and exams, fear of certain teachers, nail-biting, drug abuse, alcoholism and bullying.
“One or more of these could be symptoms of more serious problems that ultimately contributed to learning difficulties,” said Dr Selvam, who is Ranbaxy Pharmaceutical’s head of medical affairs for the Asean region.
In his talk entitled “Straight Talk”, he also said some of the most pressing issues concerning students today included a decline in social etiquette, mutual respect and tolerance in a multiracial society.
Dr Selvam said the increasing number of cases involving self-harm and irresponsible behaviour among children, teenagers and young adults was also an indication of the toll that stress was taking on modern lifestyles.
“As schools are representative of the younger population in general, teachers are role models, pillars of future behaviour and prime instruments of moulding. So it is important for schools to form problem-solving groups to ensure counselling support is always there,” he said.
Quest International University Perak (QIUP) Associate Dean from the Faculty of Medicine, Professor Dr Shaharuddin Aziz, said the university, whose main campus is in Ipoh, would soon launch short-term certificate and diploma-level courses for teachers keen to upgrade their skills in counselling.
These courses, he said, would encompass adulthood development and transition, controlling anger and stress, dealing effectively with behavioural issues and counselling skills.