In a first-of-its-kind initiative, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s education department will offer counselling facility for students enrolled in its schools from the 2019-20 academic year.
The department has already initiated the procedure of hiring 60 professionals with post-graduate degree in clinical psychology as full-time counsellors.
Five counsellors will be stationed at each of the 12 Urban Resource Centres (URC) across the city.
With each centre catering to an average of 100 BMC schools, one counsellor will be appointed to serve around 20 schools.
A URC collects information on schools, works on implementation of schemes and conducts teachers’ training among other things.
“Most of the children who are enrolled in our schools come from an economically and socially lower strata of the society and don’t receive much support from home. There is nobody to supervise what they are engaged in. Some children are not expressive, some are not good in writing, others have behavioural issues. The counsellors will be required to help children in their overall development,” said deputy education officer Prakash Charhate. He said that the civic body has also asked a few NGOs to submit expression of interest.
The BMC has 1,187 schools in the city, with an enrolment of 3.6 lakh students.
Counsellors will be roped in on a contract of three years, for 10 months per academic session. The corporation will set aside Rs 1.5 crore for their salaries and stationery.
They will be expected to visit schools in the vicinity of their URC on a daily basis as per the requirement, and one room in each school will be allotted to them.
Children who need counselling will be identified by class teachers, while parents can also bring their wards to URC for the same. An advertisement in this regard will also be released in March end.
Bal Bhavan Centres will also be revived to discourage children from addiction to social media, television or drugs.
These centres will be operational only during summer and Diwali vacations. They will run activities to encourage hobbies in children, such as photography, calligraphy, physical education, singing and music, Charhate said.
These centres were first introduced in 1967, but were stopped between 1995 to 2000, after which they suffered neglect.
Two Bal Bhavan Centres will be set up in each URC, the budget for which has been fixed at Rs 50,000 per centre annually.