Expert seeks drug control officers in schools

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Lagos State government has been tasked to implement policies on the appointment of a teacher or an administrative staff as a drug control officer in every primary and secondary school in the state.

Speaking at the opening of a six-day training of the first batch of Principals of Lagos State on the “Universal Prevention Curriculum (UPC) for Substance Use Disorders,” which held Monday at the Lagos State Model College, Meiran, Agbado, Lagos, the National Co-ordinator, UPC and founder, Global Initiative on Substance Abuse (GISA), Dr Martin Agwogie  said such officer would be adequately trained on how to develop and implement evidence-based substance abuse prevention interventions in their respective schools.

“This will go a long way in addressing the drug problems among the school age population in Lagos State, thereby setting the pace for other states in Nigeria to emulate”.

Agwogie, said the training was the first and the most comprehensive abuse prevention training organised for secondary schools principals in Nigeria.

“You will agree with me that this training could not have come at a better time than now, especially with the worrisome trend in substance abuse among youths in Nigeria and Lagos State in particular. Report from the 2018 national drug use survey shows that Lagos state has the highest number of persons who use drugs in Nigeria. This calls for urgent steps by everyone in Lagos State. This is not the time to sit on the fence. We must all rise to address this issue frontally to safeguard the future of the younger generation,” he said.

Declaring the conference open, the Tutor-General Permanent Secretary, Education District 1, Dr Yinka Ayandele, said advocacy would be taken beyond principals of schools to parents and communities.

“We are going to have drug controlled systems practitioners in schools. We are also taking the advocacy beyond school principals to parents through the Parents’ forum in each school where they meet regularly in a term.

“There are signs to watch out for as parents and to educate them where to seek help, and finally to communities, the aim is to ensure that all hands are on deck towards the eradication of drug abuse in the state”, she said.

Speaking on the importance of the training, the Convener and Founder, Isaac Adetolu Foundation, Mr Olatunde Isaac Adetolu, said it was to give stakeholders, especially the principals, the evidence based prevention intervention theories and skills to deal with drug abuse which he warned needed to be contained to avoid a national disaster.

“We are reaching out to our youths through life skills programmes, sensitization programmes advocacy programmes.  We are training some youths, then the community and parental intervention,” he said.

Speaking on his expectations from the training, Principal, Ifesowapo-Aboru Junior Secondary School, Aboru, Lagos, Mr Bunmi Oyesanya said: “It is expected that by the end of the seminar I should be on top of the job knowing those drugs that students are taking, why they (students) are taking it and how to prevent the abuse of drugs.”

He continued: “What we are learning here will also be cascaded to parents during the Parents’ Forum meeting so that they will be able to educate their wards better for effectiveness and efficiency.”

To youths, Oyesanya warned that substances were not good for them and they should be very careful so that they do not mar their future.

The UPC is one of the three Curricula developed by US Department of State Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL), the Colombo Plan Drug Advisory Programme of Sri Lanka, the Board of Trustees, Global Initiative on Substance Abuse (GISA) and Isaac Adetolu Foundation.

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