March 8, 2021

GISA trains 72 teachers, counselors on substance use prevention

Group photograph of the organisers and participants.

By Evelyn Usman

Global Initiative and Substance Abuse, GISA has trained 72   Vice Principals, Secondary school teachers and counselors from 18 schools   in Lagos State,  on evidence-based substance use prevention among students in Nigeria, with a view to assisting them  identify and provide substance use prevention interventions in schools.

The training, which is the first on substance use prevention in the country, had  participants drawn from 12 private secondary schools and six public schools in Lagos state.

Speaking at the opening ceremony of the six days training  held  at Magogo estate, Isheri area of Lagos, the National Project Officer,  United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Dr. Akanidomo Ibanga,   disclosed  that the  training was the  Drug Abuse Reduction Centre Grant, from Japan.  He revealed that  some  young people in the organization mobilized the community to raise funds to give UNODC , to run  such programmes  on drug prevention for medium and low income countries.

He said : “  It is a yearly grant that is given to Non Governmental Organization on  drug protection programmes for young people. It is a drug prevention  and an empowerment programme specifically targeting young people both in school and out of school.

“ Statistics by the  Centre of addiction in Colombia which  looked at the national budget , showed  that 16 percent of the nation’s budget in the US is spent on addressing the negative consequences of drug use, which is quite a lot.

“In prevention, the amount of money you spend  both in  terms of materials and  training  teachers and the cost benefit is much. It is an average of one to 1 to 18 dollars. For every one dollar you are spending for prevention, you are saving 18 dollars you would have spent addressing the negative consequences of drug use.

“The more you can prevent drug use, the other possibility of expanding to other people. So, saving quite a lot  of money to engage in prevention is good. And if we had prevention programmes nationally, across the country that  was effective , the cost benefit will be a lot”, he stated.

In her remark,  the Tutor General /Permanent Secretary,  Education District II, Mrs Ayinke Adekanye , described the training as a right step in the right direction towards empowering teachers and counselors with the needed knowledge to  monitor students .

Adekanye who was represented by the Director, Head of  Guidance and Counseling Unit, Education District II , Olori Adeyemi Kalejaiye, called on  parents to  join in the campaign on substance use prevention and advised  students against accepting soft drinks from anyone , warning that such could have been laced with substance.

Noting that  the issue of  substance abuse should be the concern of everybody, she said, “  These days, it  is very dangerous to take anything that is coloured, in any name, from anybody. There is a need to  educate students  properly from home. That is why we are not taking anything for granted”, she said, admonishing  participants to  take the training  serious, reminding that the knowledge acquired would be of benefit of their schools,  families, Lagos State and Nigeria as a country

In his welcome address, the Founder/Executive Director, GISA ,Dr. Martin Agwogie,  explained that the essence of the training was  to build the capacity of schools’ functionaries ,adding that “  It  is to help them instead of supporting the school system from far  , it is equipping them with the required tools to be able to provide substance use prevention interventions within the school.

“This is one of the first and most comprehensive evidence-based substance use prevention training ever organized for secondary school personnel in Nigeria”.

He further explained that four staff from each of the selected schools, made up of two teachers, one counselor and one Vice Principal,  would be certified as Substance Abuse Prevention Officers, SAPOs at the end of the training, while seven officials of the  Lagos State Ministries  of Education, Health, Youth and Social Development would  serve as monitoring officers.

The selection of four staff per school according to him, “  is in line with evidence-based practice of team building for substance use prevention in each school. These four staff, together with selected students who will also receive training as Peer Educators will play the lead role in substance use prevention in their respective schools”

Beyond training of teachers,  Agwogie informed that the  project would  also  involve the training of 18 students in each school, who would  support in delivering prevention interventions in the respective schools, “workshops for parents, the use of technology and mobile phone messaging for both parents and students and introduction to the UNPLUGGED programme which has been evaluated in Nigeria. It is estimated that at the end of the project a total of 16,000 students would have benefitted . This is in addition to their parents and members of the community where the schools are located.

“Participants here will receive training on the concept and science of substance use prevention, risk factors for substance use among students, why substance use prevention is important in schools, the role of schools in substance use prevention, different interventions for different age groups in the school setting, how to assess the needs and resources of the school system for evidence-based substance use prevention, how to form GISA Prevention Leadership Action Team,PLAT  techniques for substance use prevention in educational settings, personal and social skills for substance use prevention, classroom management of inappropriate behaviour, school policies and development of positive school climate for substance use prevention, among others.

“At the end of this project, we expect a significant reduction in substance use among students of the selected schools, an increase in students participation in drug policy and review, increased perception of harm of the dangers of substance use in the selected schools, established a sustainable GISA Prevention Leadership Action Team (GPLAT) and improved positive school climate. We also aim to increase students’ perception of school safety, reduce the total office discipline referrals and establish a more responsive Parent Teachers Association towards substance use prevention”.