BEREAVED STUDENTS’ AND TEACHER-COUNSELLORS’ PERCEPTIONS OF AN APPROPRIATE SCHOOL ENVIRONMENT FOR BEREAVEMENT RECOVERY IN SECONDARY SCHOOLS IN MUMIAS DISTRICT, KENYA

ABSTRACT
Bereavement is a state of loss of a loved one through death. It triggers a reaction called grief which has negative physical, social and emotional effects on the bereaved child. Bereaved students need an appropriate school environment for bereavement recovery to help them to deal with the negative effects of grief because the surviving parent and the significant others who are supposed to help them at home may be pre-occupied with their own grieving. The bereaved students also need to continue with their schooling away from the home environment yet the grieving process may take a long time. The purpose of this study was to establish the bereaved students‟ and teacher-counsellors‟ perceptions of the appropriate school environment for bereavement recovery among secondary school students. A descriptive survey research design was employed in this study. The target population was 17200 secondary school students out of which an accessible population of 634 students who had lost one or both parents through death was selected for the study. Also, 49 teacher-counsellors were targeted out of which a sample of 23 participated in the study. A sample size of 170 students who had lost one or both parents through death participated in the study. Purposive sampling was used to identify students who had lost one or both parents through death. The data was collected using questionnaires. The collected data was analyzed by both descriptive and inferential statistics with the help of a Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) version 17.0 for windows. The descriptive statistics included means, frequencies, percentages and standard deviations whereas inferential statistics involved a t-test. All tests were done at a significant level of α = 0.05. The findings of the research indicated that both bereaved students and teacher-counsellors positively perceived the school as an appropriate environment for bereavement recovery among secondary school students. However, the female students had a more positive perception of the bereavement recovery environment than the male students. It was recommended that teacher and peer counsellors be trained to effectively help bereaved students to overcome grief. The findings of the research are expected to benefit the Ministry of Education, parents and teacher-counsellors to help bereaved secondary school students to effectively work through grief and adjust well in the absence of the deceased parent or parents.

CHAPTER ONE
INTRODUCTION
Background of the Study
According to Balk (1999), bereavement is universal to mankind and is even experienced in other species of animals such as the geese, dogs, elephants and non-human primates. Bereavement which is a state of loss of important things in one‟s life such as a pet, a car, a house through fire and a significant other person through death triggers a reaction called grief. Grief is manifested in a set of behaviours called mourning. Talitwala (1999) suggests that grief is a universal reaction to loss that is manifested by mental pain, distress, deep violent sorrow and bitter feelings of regret for something that is lost. Similarly, in Kenya people loose valuable items such as property through fire, vehicles through road accidents and even lives of their loved ones through death among others. The desolation, restlessness and raging against loss through death shown in olden days is also familiar to us today and as a result there is no loss without pain (Peyne, Horn and Relf, 1999).

Both Weirzsbicka (2004) and Neimeyer (1998) concur that ancient stories and legends speak of the struggle the human kind has been long engaged in to come to terms with the finality of death and deal with its aftermath in individuals and the society. Bereavement is a source of physical, social and emotional disturbance and as a result various organizations have been put in place to help bereaved people work through their grief successfully (Corr, 1999). The hospice in the United States of America provides humane care to the dying and bereavement services to the survivors while in Kenya, non –governmental organizations (N.G.O), churches and professional counselling groups among others help people to deal with the negative effects of grief. The Ministry of Education (M.O.E) has established and strengthened guidance and counselling programmes in secondary schools following recommendations of education reports. These reports stressed on implementation of Guidance and counseling in schools, giving it a priority and use of peer counsellors and trained teacher-counsellors in counselling students (G.O.K, 1964; G.O.K, 1988 & G.O.K, 1999). However, as noted by Sindabi (1992) these programmes have concentrated on counselling in academics, careers and other personal life issues. The area that has not been adequately addressed by these programmes is bereavement counselling and yet the number of orphans is on the increase in Kenya due to a high death rate of people caused by road accidents, fire outbreaks and HIV/AIDS and other related illnesses (Ndung‟u, 2007; G.O.K, 2005).

Bereaved students just like adults, experience disturbing physical, social and emotional problems that need to be worked out in an appropriate school environment for bereavement recovery (Madara, 1999; Talitwala, 1999). The bereaved students resume school when they are still aggrieved because the surviving parent or significant others who are supposed to help them at home are pre-occupied with their own grieving (Ndambuki & Mutie, 1999). The grieving process may also take long yet these students need to continue with schooling away from the home environment. The school is often „cold‟ to the special needs of bereaved students due to ignorance of the pain that is experienced by such students. The teacher-counsellors may also have inadequate knowledge and skills on how to help the bereaved students.

The bereavement recovery environment should provide adequate social and psychological support that will ensure unconditional positive regard, communication of accurate empathy, provision of warmth, love and care towards the bereaved students and attending of funerals and memorial services of the deceased parent. The bereaved students should also be taken care of physically by provision of a balanced diet, medical care, physical fitness exercises and allowed enough sleep (Weirzbicka, 2004). However, the process and pattern of grieving vary in individuals due to circumstances of death, differences in personality, culture and anticipation of death among others (Doreen, 2000). The bereavement recovery environment should be flexible in addressing individual needs of the bereaved students. The appropriate school environment for bereavement recovery can be established and enhanced to adequately address the needs of bereaved students basing on the perceptions of teacher-counsellors as the administrators and the orphaned students as the consumers of this recovery environment in secondary schools in Mumias District.

Statement of the Problem
Bereavement usually disturbs an individual socially, physically and even emotionally (Mathew, 1999; Matlin, 2004). Bereaved students need to be helped by teacher-counsellors and peers to effectively work through the negative effects of grief at school in an appropriate school environment. The surviving parent and significant others who ought to help them at home are often pre-occupied with their own grieving making the bereaved students resume school when still aggrieved. The grieving process may take long yet the bereaved students need to continue with schooling away from the home environment. Currently, some schools have put in measures through Guidance and Counselling to create a school environment for bereavement recovery but they are inadequate in helping bereaved students to effectively work through grief. There is therefore need to establish the bereaved students‟ and teacher-counsellors‟ perceptions of the appropriate school environment for bereavement recovery in secondary schools in Mumias District.

Purpose of the Study
The purpose of this study was to investigate the bereaved students‟ and teacher–counsellors‟ perceptions of the appropriate school environment for bereavement recovery in secondary schools in Mumias District of Kenya.

Objectives of the Study
The study was guided by the following objectives:

(i) To establish the bereaved students‟ perceptions of the appropriate school environment for bereavement recovery in secondary schools in Mumias District.

(ii) To establish the teacher-counsellors‟ perceptions of the appropriate school environment for bereavement recovery among bereaved secondary school students in Mumias District.

(iii) To determine whether differences exist in the bereaved male and female students‟ perceptions of the appropriate school environment for bereavement recovery in secondary schools in Mumias District.

(iv) To determine whether differences exist in the male and female teacher-counsellors‟ perceptions of the appropriate school environment for bereavement recovery among bereaved secondary school students in Mumias District.

Research Questions
(i) What are the bereaved students‟ perceptions of the appropriate school environment for bereavement recovery in secondary schools in Mumias District?

(ii) What are the teacher-counsellors‟ perceptions of the appropriate school environment for bereavement recovery among bereaved secondary school students in Mumias District?

Research Hypotheses
Ho1: There is no statistically significant difference in the bereaved male and female students‟ perceptions of the appropriate school environment for bereavement recovery in secondary schools in Mumias District.

Ho2: There is no statistically significant difference between male and female teacher- counsellors‟ perceptions of the appropriate school environment for bereavement recovery of bereaved secondary school students in Mumias District.

Significance of the Study
Bereavement is a source of social, physical and emotional disturbance yet it has not been given adequate attention in secondary schools. It may lead to poor academic performance, indiscipline and even psychological problems such as depression, isolation and suicidal thoughts when not well addressed. The findings of this study may educate secondary school administrators and the society leaders at large on the need to address the concerns of bereaved students. Once these needs are adequately addressed, the negative physical, social and emotional effects may be eliminated. The bereaved students may therefore adjust to the loss of a parent and move on well with school activities. The findings of the study may also help the M.O.E to come up with guidelines that may help bereaved students to effectively work through grief in an appropriate school environment for bereavement recovery.

The Scope of the Study
The study involved secondary school students who had lost either one or both parents through death in Mumias District of Western Kenya. The study confined itself to bereaved students and teacher-counsellors perceptions of the appropriate school environment for bereavement recovery. The bereaved secondary school students were selected because they are teenagers who are at an age to understand and comprehend the concept of death. They are greatly affected by the loss of their parents.

The Limitations of the Study
The study on grief and bereavement was bound to negatively affect students and teacher- counsellors. The researcher gave them a briefing before and after administration of the questionnaires to take care of their ethical issue and ensure that they are not negatively affected by the information in the questionnaires. She also assured them of the confidentiality of their responses and informed them that the findings of the study were meant to contribute to knowledge on bereavement.

Assumptions of the Study
This study was based on the following assumptions:

(i) All parents are care givers and as a result their demise negatively affects their children.

(ii) The bereaved students and teacher- counsellors gave honest responses.

(iii) The intensity of negative effects of grief on bereaved students vary depending on the care they had given them.

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Item Type: Kenyan Material  |  Attribute: 58 pages  |  Chapters: 1-5
Format: MS Word  |  Price: KSh900  |  Delivery: Within 30Mins.
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