By Omolara Akintoye
The Lagos state government has commended Global Initiative on Substance Abuse (GISA) on its substance abuse prevention initiatives in schools.
This was made known by the Director and Head Child Guidance, School Counselling and Special Education, Mrs. Olusola Somoye who represented the Honourable Commissioner for Education at the opening ceremony of the second batch of 6 days training of secondary school teachers on evidence-based substance use prevention.
According to Mrs. Somoye, “we are excited that beyond the braining of teachers on substance use prevention, mechanisms have been put in place to monitor the application of knowledge and skills in the respective schools. This is highly commendable and worthy of emulation”. Speaking further, Mrs. Somoye noted that the problem of substance abuse is the problem of all and charged participants to be committed to this course for a better society.
She reminded them that they have become change agent who will join hands to transform the school setting, state and the nation in this area. In her words, “because the students you will be imparting belong to communities and the society, this is going to snowball to good results for the state and the nation”.
The Director reinstated the commitment of Lagos state government towards addressing the issue of substance abuse among the student population. She expressed appreciation to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) for funding the project in the state.
In his welcome address, the Founder/Executive Director, GISA, Dr. Martin Agwogie, explained that the essence of the training was to equip the school functionaries with the required tools for substance use prevention interventions in the school setting. Dr. Agwogie noted that the training was one of the first and most comprehensive evidence-based substance use prevention training ever organized for secondary school personnel in Nigeria. He explained that four staff from each of the 18 selected schools, made up of two teachers, one counsellor and one Vice Principal, would be certified as Substance Abuse Prevention Officers, SAPOs at the end of the training and drive prevention activities in their respective schools. The selection of four staff per school according to him, “is in line with evidence-based practice of team building for substance use prevention. 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”.
It is estimated that a total of 16,000 students will benefit from the project. This is in addition to their parents and members of the community where the schools are located.