Substance abuse continues to be a challenge that a lot of societies are battling and has become a global public health concern. Despite the horror stories of illnesses and deaths associated with substance abuse, the menace continues to prevail, especially among adolescents and youths. In Nigeria today, it is not uncommon to see adolescents engaging in the abuse of substances like alcohol cannabis, cocaine, heroin and other illicit drugs.
The Nigerian Government and the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), have tried to stem the tide in the country through policies and initiatives. International organisations, as well as private organisations in Nigeria, have also joined forces with the government in proffering sustainable solutions to the problem.
Recently, MTN Foundation partnered with the United Nations Office on Drug and Crimes (UNODC) and National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) to train and equip teachers with instruments to work on social influences, life skills and substance prevention among their students. The training programme tagged ‘Unplugged’ was targeted at secondary school teachers in Oyo, Rivers and Kano.
The training sessions were interactive and included physical, mental and social exercises and experiments by the teachers. One could feel the excitement among the teachers as they actively engaged in the exercises and practised the experiments given to them by the trainers.
Speaking on her experience during the training, Oyinloye Oyindamola, a teacher at Wesley College of Science, Oyo State, said the training has been a mind-shifting experience, and in the three days of the training, she has seen areas that will help her in better interacting with her students.
“I was sceptical when I heard about attending the training, I thought it was one of those regular training we have been doing in the past that will bore you the entire day, but this was different. It was fun, engaging and impactful and I can honestly say that I’ve had a mind shift. Majorly, I have also learnt skills to help my students as we work together to fight substance abuse,” she said.
Also speaking on the lessons gained from the training, Owuakpo S. Owuakpo, a teacher at Government Comprehensive High School, Rivers State, said that the training was a valuable experience where he gained new skills and knowledge.
“The training was an eye-opener for me, and I believe if it is introduced in every school curriculum it will greatly effect change in the society. We are about to launch the curriculum in my school, and we have spoken with students and teachers. Everyone is excited and gingered to start this journey of fighting substance abuse,” he said.
The Unplugged training is part of the MTN Foundation’s Anti-Substance Abuse Programme (ASAP), an initiative to fight against and curb substance abuse amongst youths in our society.