Counseling has been in Tanzanian civilizations for a very long time before the colonial era, in various forms, and with various interpretations. The historical and communal conflicts that have produced modern culture are to blame for the disparities and inconsistencies of today.
Through the ages, communal Tanzanians have attempted to comprehend themselves, provide guidance and develop their potential, become aware of opportunities, and, generally, aid themselves in ways slightly different from formal counseling practice.
Most communities have long had—and still have—a deeply held belief that, given appropriate circumstances, members of a community can assist themselves in solving their difficulties.
This was the basis upon which traditional guidance and counseling in Tanzania was predicated just like in any other country. But it left many modern-day societal issues unaddressed.
In this post, we will cover the historical development of guidance and counseling in Tanzania, the key players involved, as well as major milestones that gave rise to the profession.
Rites and Rituals in the Precolonial Era
Although the history of guidance and counseling practices in Tanzania is not adequately documented in any written sources, it is similar to other pre-colonial countries.
There were notable distinctive features that kept the civilizations together and supported their way of life. The extended home structure, along with the clan and the tribe, the chieftaincy, taboos, multiple initiation rites, and intimate ties with ancestors and elders make up the components.
The settlement serves as the social hub. Boys and girls primarily sought advice and counseling from the elders and town chiefs and the chiefs were typically seen as an important conduit between the ancestors and the next generation.
The rituals, ceremonies, and taboos associated with them served to cement the connection.
Since the rituals or rites also served to prepare the young for adult positions in society, it was simple to mentor and coach the younger generation.
Villages, clans, and extended families fostered a friendly neighborhood. No one considered themselves to be foreign. Guidance was easily requested and given. Giving advice and imparting knowledge were the involved types of counseling.
Development of Modern-Day Guidance and Counseling In Tanzania
What we might call professional guidance and counseling in Tanzanian schools today began in the year 1984.
It followed the National October 1984 Arusha Conference, where guidance and counseling services were recognized by the government as an essential component of the country’s instruction ideals.
The conference’s goal was to develop organized standards for the guidance and counseling of secondary school students.
Then, the students received advice, direction, and counseling regarding their decision for a job and learner placement for further education.
Career masters and mistresses were given this task, but neither the ministry nor schools had sufficient guidance and counseling personnel.
Before then, in the 1970s, the government of Tanzania recognized the importance of guidance and counseling in promoting the overall well-being of students and began to incorporate it into the education system.
The Ministry of Education and Culture established the Guidance and Counseling Unit to oversee the implementation of guidance and counseling services in schools.
In the 1980s, the government introduced the Comprehensive Community Based Rehabilitation Program (CCBR), which aimed to provide support for students with disabilities, including counseling services.
The program was later expanded to include non-disabled students, and guidance and counseling became an integral part of the education system.
In the 1990s, the government of Tanzania launched the Education Sector Development Program (ESDP), which included a focus on guidance and counseling.
The program aimed to improve the quality of education in the country by ensuring that students received holistic support to promote their personal and social development.
Current State of Guidance and Counseling In Tanzania
Today, guidance and counseling is an important part of the education system in Tanzania, and the government has implemented policies and programs to support the development and implementation of guidance and counseling services.
At educational institutions, guidance and counseling is currently spreading and becoming moderately institutionalized.
For instance, schools have largely taken over the responsibility of providing psychological support to both boys and girls. Nonetheless, Tanzania currently lacks effective policies on counseling and guidance.
However, there are still challenges to be addressed, such as a shortage of trained counselors and limited resources for counseling services.
Challenges in the Historical Development of Guidance and Counseling In Tanzania
Over its history, the profession of guidance and counseling in Tanzania has had to overcome several obstacles. Some of these difficulties include:
Tanzanians as a whole frequently underestimate the value of guidance and counseling. As a result, when individuals experience issues, they do not seek counseling. This has made the counseling profession not expand as much as it might have.
The Tanzanian government hasn’t allocated adequate funds to the establishment of guidance and counseling services. Due to this, there are not enough qualified counselors available, and counseling services are not widely available, particularly in rural regions.
In Tanzania, certain traditional beliefs and practices regard mental illness as a sign of weakness or as a spiritual issue. But this is also extended to all mental health issues like depression. Because of this stigma, many are discouraged from seeking counseling services.
Limited training opportunities
Up until recently, Tanzania had very few institutions that provided guidance and counseling training. Due to this, there is a shortage of qualified counselors and a constrained ability to offer counseling services.
Insufficient localized research
Only a small amount of research has been done on Tanzania’s counseling services’ effectiveness. Due to this, it has been challenging to establish evidence-based methods and assess the effectiveness of therapy as it is unique to the cultural landscape of the nation.
Underdeveloped policy framework
Tanzania’s guidance and counseling policy framework is underdeveloped. This has resulted in a lack of precise guidelines and standards for the industry, making it challenging to guarantee the provision of high-quality counseling services.
To effectively address these issues, the government, counseling specialists, and the general public will need to work together to raise awareness, provide resources and training, remove cultural barriers, and create a solid policy framework.
Olusegun Iyejare is a career coach and certified counselor. He helps individuals discover and maximize their potential to live satisfying lives regardless of obvious limitations holding them back.