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Abstract

The paper looked at the provision of counseling services to students in government schools after the implementation of inclusive education in Brunei Darussalam. The creation of the Special Education Unit and the Division of Counseling and Career Guidance (both in the Ministry of Education) to coordinate the respective services was a welcome decision in the right direction. Inclusion, however, may have expanded the role of school counselors in many ways and possibly brought other unforeseen problems. Thirteen identified and selected factors that may impact negatively on the work of school counselors under inclusion are discussed. In addition it was observed that the Special Education Unit and the Division of Counseling and Career Guidance were not working closely as expected. There was also no information regarding the extent to which school counselors were working cooperatively with special education teachers (known as learning assistance teachers, LATs) and regular teachers in schools. This lack of liaison among these key providers of educational and counseling interventions in schools is a source of concern because solving problems of young students (both disabled and none-disabled) often requires dyadic or triadic and sometimes multi-team consultations and interventions. The none-availability of school counselors in the preschools and special schools was also a worrying service gap. Further, the inadequate number and low level of school counselors at the primary school level (one counselor for every three schools) was considered insufficient for services to be effective. If not addressed satisfactorily, these and other related problems may become barriers to the provision of realistic, meaningful and beneficial counseling services to students under inclusive education. This is where more efforts and resources need to be channeled. A more in-depth evaluative study of the school counseling services in Brunei employing both quantitative and qualitative procedures is recommended to gain additional insights into the problem and its possible solutions.