When people lack certain resources and capabilities they are unable or even unwilling to learn, work or engage in certain activities and can therefore experience social exclusion. A Euroguidance conference in Malta organised by the European Union Programmes Agency on social inclusion provided a platform for a discussion on how guidance and counselling can help such clients towards inclusion in the society once again.
Some participants expressed their concern that college education does not offer an environment which will lead to more social inclusion. Family values are heavily influenced by geographical location
and students need to be provided with opportunities to spend as much time as possible in classes comprised of students come from mixed backgrounds
Presentation by Euroguidance Malta
Guidance should be targeted to primary schools
A possible solution is that personal social development
be taught across subjects to give students time management skills, social skills, employability skills and skills for enhancing one’s self-esteem. Primary schools should be targeted
with the help of social workers, guidance teachers, counsellors and family therapists in order to increase motivation, literacy and numeracy skills.
Various examples were cited of how children as young as 6 years of age are so ‘street-wise’ that they manage to evade being approached by social workers or Directorate for Education Services officials. Thus, those in the greatest need of being provided support
to achieve inclusion are deliberately avoiding doing so
, thus creating a vicious cycle.
Sub-cultures can limit the career choices
The conference also identified sub-cultures
within particular geographical zones which seem to encourage particular careers such as construction, or fishing, which are often encouraged by parents. This is especially the case in particular villages which are somewhat geographically cut off. In some areas, although central, a general sense of poverty is pervasive and creates social barriers.
Another issue which was tackled was that of employment.
The general opinion was that employment could be the last hope of breaking free from factors leading to exclusion. Therefore, the need to empower people through the transmission of skills was raised; i.e. the need to know oneself more, one’s potential more, and the possible routes that follow from this
Since youths seem to experience a higher unemployment rate, participants proposed that career advisors should liaise with youth clubs
i.e. going to places where students hang around just like the ‘Connections’ scheme in England, which has high success rates.
Reinhard Attard, Euroguidance Malta