Principals of Lagos secondary schools have been trained on the Universal Prevention Curriculum (UPC) for Substance Use Disorders just as the 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.
Founder, Global Initiative on Substance Abuse (GISA), Dr. Martin Agwogie, gave this task while speaking at the opening ceremony of a 6-day Training of first batch of Principals of Lagos State held at Lagos State Model College, Meiran, Agbado, Lagos,
Agwogie, who is also the National Coordinator of UPC, said such officer will 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,” he stated.
According to him, the training is the first and the most comprehensive evidence based substance abuse prevention training ever organized for secondary schools principals in Nigeria.
“You will agree with me that this training would 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 among 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”, said Agwogie.
While declaring the conference open, Permanent Secretary, Education District 1, Lagos State, Dr. (Mrs.) Yinka Ayandele, pointed out that the advocacy will be taking beyond school principals to the parents and also to communities.
Her words “We are going to have a drug controlled systems practitioners in schools. We are also taking the advocacy beyond school principals to parents (through the Parent 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, Convener of the training and Founder, Isaac Adetolu Foundation, Mr. Olatunde Isaac Adetolu, said it was to give stakeholders, especially principals of various Secondary Schools in the state, the evidence based prevention intervention theories and skills of what to do with the phenomenon of drug abuse which is becoming a national phenomenon and if not contained can lead to a national disaster.
“We are reaching out to our youths through life skills programs, sensitisation programs advocacy programs, we are training some youths, then the community and parent intervention”, said Olatunde.
Speaking with some of the participants on their expectations from the training, the Principal Ifesowapo-Aboru Junior Secondary School, Aboru, Lagos, Mr. Bunmi Oyesanya, said it is expected that by the end of the seminar he 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 said that when teachers alone do it won’t have much effect, it has to be multi-facet action with parents.
“What we are learning 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,” he said.
To youths Oyesanya warned that substances are not good for them and they have to be very careful so that it doesn’t mar their future.
The Universal Prevention Curriculum 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.