by Shalu Mehrotra & Father Godfrey D'Sa for BISMumbai

The Convocation Ceremony for 42 Archdiocesan Board of Education (ABE-Archdiocese of Bombay) Teachers, trained in ‘Basic Skills in Counselling’ conducted from June-November 2019, by Mumbai Salesians' Prafulta-Centre for Psychological Wellness, was held on 19 January 2020, at St. Andrew's College Bandra. Prafulta has been conducting this course for the past 14 years.

The representational theme for the convocation was RAINBOW: ‘Reverence’ involved lighting of the lamp by Fathers Dennis Gonsalves, Godfrey D’Sa, Magi Murzello, along with Shalu Mehrotra and Rachna Jog, followed by ‘Aloha’ a welcome song, after which was 'Invoking God’s presence' in the form of a well synchronized prayer dance. Next was ‘Nostalgia’ a power-point presentation on the course learning. ‘Blissful’ felicitations of the guests with handmade cards and key chains, led onto ‘Ode’ a sharing by 02 teachers of the magical memories through this course. ‘Wow’ was the reception of course-completion certificates from the Chief Guest Father Dennis Gonsalves - ABE Secretary.

One of the teacher participants said, "I would call these 100 hours, a journey within. More than anything, this course has empowered me to understand the feelings of others and at the same time scrutinize my own thought processes," while another chipped in saying, “More than ever, our children today need our emotional support and understanding. This course has helped me to accept and understand the variety of children I encounter in my all-inclusive classroom and be present for each of them."

Initiated way back in 2005, Prafulta's 'Teacher Counselor Course’ (as it was then named), has till date trained 777 teachers from 133 ABE schools. Father D'Sa-Director, Prafulta going down memory lane described, "this course started with the vision of transforming every school into a home, where the environment becomes more child friendly." Shalu Mehrotra, Course coordinator/facilitator since its inception, shared, "a follow-up study reveals that even after several years, there was an attitudinal change in many teachers, helping them be more empathetic towards their students, assisting these with issues of relationships, stress, self-esteem, and conflict with parents/peers, etc."

A few school principals present on the occasion, too acknowledged the important role these teachers were playing in the lives of children, especially with those that needed extra attention and care. Father Gonsalves emphasized, "training in counselling skills for teachers is the need of the hour and I pledge my total support to training such as this."