INFLUENCE OF PEER COUNSELLING ON STUDENTS’ BEHAVIOUR CHANGE IN SECONDARY SCHOOLS IN NAKURU MUNICIPALITY, KENYA

ABSTRACT
Peer counselling has become an important and integral part of secondary schools in Kenya owing to the dynamism of education and the many problems facing secondary school students. The need for peer counsellors is one that cannot be overlooked owing to the fact that the teacher counsellor is either one or non-existent in most schools. While researchers, educationists and other concerned parties have come to recognise the role of peers as primary socialisation agents among adolescents, they have not seriously questioned the role played by peer counsellors in influencing behaviour change in secondary schools. This study examined the influence of peer counselling on the behaviour change of secondary school students in Nakuru Municipality. The study adopted the ex-post-facto research design. Twelve schools with a total population of 7338 students were identified as having active peer counselling programmes. A sample of 12 teacher counsellors, 32 peer counsellors and 132 students who had consulted peer counsellors was chosen using stratified and purposive sampling techniques from 9 public and 3 private secondary schools. The pilot study was done for the purpose of establishing the validity and reliability of the instruments. The teacher counsellors’, peer counsellors’ and students’ questionnaires content and face validity were established by experts from the Department of Psychology. Reliability was tested using the Cronbach’s Alpha and was established at 0.822, 0.802 and 0.851 respectively. The Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) version 22 for Windows was used in data analysis. Frequencies and percentages were used to describe the data. The influence of the independent variables on the dependent variable was determined by testing the relationship using the Pearson Product Correlations Coefficient. The results of the study revealed that the training and resources for Peer Counselling were inadequate. The results also revealed that Peer Counselling influences students’ academic performance however it does not influence their social and emotional behaviour. The study recommended training of peer counsellors and allocation of adequate funds and resources to school peer counselling programmes.

CHAPTER ONE
INTRODUCTION
Background of the Study
Peer Counselling is the encouraging concerted effort to harness the capacity which group members sharing common interests may console, appease, be friend, mediate and reconcile those who are alienated from one another. This is done informally without resorting to discipline or depending on professionals or those in authority within the organisation or institution (Arudo, 2006). Peer counsellors are paraprofessionals selected from the group to be trained, and given ongoing supervision to perform some key function generally performed by a professional (Ndichu, 2005). While the traditional paradigm held that people are to be treated by professionals, this is no longer the prevailing conception. It is widely accepted that a person naturally tends to turn, in time of trouble, to a friend or to someone he/she knows rather than to a professional. Peer counselling typically involves the use of members of a given group to effect change among other members of the same group. It addresses change both at the individual level by attempting to modify a person’s knowledge, attitudes, beliefs, or behaviour and at the group or societal level by modifying norms and stimulating collective action that leads to changes in programmes and policies (Peer Education and HIV/AIDS, 2003).

Based on these considerations, the use of peer counselling programmes in schools for prevention purposes has greatly expanded. Peer Counsellors in secondary schools are students appointed by their colleagues or the school administration in an effort to open greater links between individual students. It is based on the assumption that individuals as natural helpers provide spontaneous and informal support to peers experientially (Arudo, 2006). When supported and developed they may become the best group to reach out to the needy students. Such natural helpers when provided with counselling skills may be of greatest assistance where authority and professional services may be inadequate or not readily available. It is for that reason that in school situation, students are likely to contact fellow students when they are experiencing problems and concerns before they approach their teachers especially on matters they consider embarrassing such as rape, STIs etc (Arudo, 2006). It is easy for them because of their closeness to their colleagues to notice stress symptoms and refer such cases to the counselling department before it is too late.

Cases of substance abuse and mental ill health would be apprehended long before they become indiscipline cases where Peer Counsellors are empowered. Emotional problems and family conflicts disturb students a lot. Students who have issues of concern may be easily identifiable by a counsellor who mingles with them during co-curricular activities. The point is ‘If the students cannot come to you, so go to them! They cannot resist their colleagues’ (Ndichu, 2005).

Throughout the years, school professionals have attempted to redirect the effect of peer influence on behaviours into a positive direction. In the 1960's, Albert Bandura analyzed the antecedent processes to the behavioural or attitude change. According to Spiegler and Guevrement (2003) as cited in Pohlman (2007), Bandura originally developed a social learning theory that included the classical and operant conditioning principles along with observational learning, which is one's process of changing their own behaviours by observing a model's (i.e., another person's) behaviours. This modelling of behaviour can occur at the time of observation as well as at a later date and time. Bandura's social learning theory was later termed the social cognitive theory due to also emphasising the significant role cognition (e.g., thoughts, images, and expectations) plays in psychological functioning along with the role cognition has in the development and treatment of psychological disorders (Spiegler & Guevrement, 2003 in Pohlman ,2007). Therefore, in the 1960's, Bandura was already giving theoretical insight as to the many dimensions peer influence has on attitudes and behaviours.

Peer counselling has become an important and integral part of our secondary schools owing to the dynamism of education and the many problems facing secondary school students. The large number of students in secondary schools, limited number of trained teacher counsellors, heavy workload, socio-economic and technological challenges all put pressure on teachers counsellors, students, parents and society. Government of Kenya (2001) recommended the strengthening of the existing teacher counselling in schools and the introduction of peer counselling to help schools cope with the indiscipline problems. It recommended inauguration of peer-counselling groups in every school and for peer counsellors to receive training to empower them to perform their role. More recently, peer counselling has gained support for a practical reason. The demand for guidance and counselling services now far exceeds the supply of professional school counsellors. Peer counselling though a relatively new concept in most Kenyan high schools is gaining ground because it bridges the gap between teachers and students. The work of Peer Counsellors can assist in broadening the impact counsellors can have on young people, families and the education system. It is against this background that the influence of peer counselling on the behaviour change of secondary school students was of interest.

Statement of the Problem
Peer Counsellors are students appointed by their colleagues or the school administration in an effort to open greater link between individual students Ndichu (2005). It is based on the assumption that individuals as natural helpers provide spontaneous and informal support to peers experientially. When supported and developed they may become the best group to reach out to the needy students. In spite of the facts that peer counselling is established in many secondary schools in Kenya, its contribution to behaviour change in secondary schools has not been documented through research in Nakuru Municipality. The study therefore sought to establish the influence of peer counselling on students’ behaviour in secondary schools in Nakuru Municipality.

Purpose of the Study
This study aimed at examining the influence of peer counselling on the behaviour change of secondary school students in Nakuru Municipality.

Objectives of the Study
The specific objectives of the study were:
i). To examine the status of peer counselling in secondary schools in Nakuru Municipality.

ii). To establish the influence of peer counselling on students’ academic behavior change in secondary schools.

iii). To determine the influence of peer counselling on students’ social behaviour change of secondary school students.

iv). To establish the influence of peer counselling on students’ emotional behaviour change in secondary schools.

Research Questions
The study was guided by following research questions:

i). What is the status of peer counselling in secondary schools in Nakuru Municipality?

Hypotheses
Ho1: There is no statistically significant relationship between provision of Peer Counselling and students’ academic behaviour change in secondary schools in Nakuru Municipality.

Ho2: There is no statistically significant relationship between provision of Peer Counselling and students’ social behaviour change in secondary schools in Nakuru Municipality.

Ho3: There is no statistically significant relationship between provision of Peer Counselling and students’ emotional behaviour change in secondary schools in Nakuru Municipality.

Significance of the Study
The findings of the study aim at creating awareness on the behavioural change of students as a result of peer counselling. Students who get adequate knowledge through peer counselling engage in responsible and sound activities. It will assist peer counselling programme providers in reviewing and blending programmes with appropriate ones that target students’ behaviour change. By understanding the influence of peer counselling on students’ behaviour change school professionals may use it to their benefit to increase student's self-motivation to exert effort toward achieving successful task completion or to increase student's resistance to negative peer influence. The findings of the study may also be used to encourage and motivate students create their own time for peer counselling. This will enable guidance counsellors, teachers, schools and Ministry of Education make informed decision on different matters affecting the students’ lives.

Scope of the Study
This study was carried out in secondary schools in Nakuru Municipality that have peer counselling programmes. The study examined the influence of Peer Counselling on students’ behavioural change. It focused on students’, academic, social and emotional behavioural change after counselling. The study also examined the status of peer counselling in secondary schools in Nakuru Municipality.

Limitations of the Study
The following will be the limitations of the study.

i) A limited number of schools participated in the study this is, few schools have introduced the concept of peer counselling more so secondary day schools.

ii) Due to heavy teaching loads and administrative duties some teacher counsellors had limited time to respond to the items promptly.

iii) Not all the respondents returning the filled questionnaires.

Assumptions of the Study
The study assumed that;
i) The respondents were honest and competent in responding to the items in the research instruments. Peer counselling had an influence on students’ academic, social and emotional behavior change.

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Item Type: Kenyan Material  |  Attribute: 67 pages  |  Chapters: 1-5
Format: MS Word  |  Price: KSh900  |  Delivery: Within 30Mins.
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