Drug Addiction: Minister Advocates Counseling, Skill Development in Schools
By Na'ankwat Dariem, Abuja
The Nigerian Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Professor Isa Pantami has advocated the strengthening of guidance and counseling for students in schools to rekindle their dreams, hopes and aspirations.
Professor Pantami emphasised the significance of skills development and entrepreneurship capability in young people.
He said this at the Opening ceremony of a 3-Day Capacity Building Programme on Guidance and Counseling and Basic Digital Literacy Skills for 1,500 Career Masters held in Jigawa State on Sunday.
The event was organised by Youth and Civil Society Coalition for Development, in collaboration with the Jigawa State Government and National Information Technology Development Agency.
Professor Pantami urged those considering a career in the ICT to be aware of the range of job descriptions within the profession and understand the minimum educational and skill requirements to be able to fit into the sector.
He said; “Developing transferable skills such as critical thinking, problem-solving and analytical skills are particularly useful for ICT professionals who work with big data or algorithms and are looking for patterns or creating instructions.’’
According to him, there are numerous funding opportunities that could be leveraged upon from Federal and State Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies.
Professor Pantami suggested International development partners and institutions such as Commonwealth Scholarship Commission, World Bank, Islamic Development Bank (IDB), Microsoft, IBM, Oracle, Google, Facebook, LinkedIn for students interested in scholarship.
Life changing process
The Minister stated that Guidance and Counseling was recognised as a life changing process, the outcome of which could make or mar the life of an individual and the society in general.
Quoting Encyclopedia Britannica, Professor Pantami said, “Guidance and Counseling is the process of helping individuals to discover and develop their educational, vocational, and psychological potentialities and thereby to achieve an optimal level of personal happiness and social usefulness.”
“Guidance is the professional advice specifically offered to the students, undergoing a personal or psychological issue and needs professional help to overcome it,’’ he stated.
On the issue of increasing number of drug addiction in young people, Professor Pantami said; “Today, millions of children are addicted to drugs, engages in various nefarious activities, delinquency, restlessness, anxiety and confusion. If this very large group of citizens, students in school and even out-of-school youths, are not properly guided and counseled, they may go on to become social miscreants that pose significant danger and threat to the larger society, “he explained.
Professor Pantami further implored Guidance and Counseling officers in Nigeria to update their manuals and methods to properly emphasis the significance of skills development and entrepreneurship capability.
He said; “Nigerian educational system is not currently setup in a way to develop skills and entrepreneurship capabilities of students, or to make them to be innovative. Therefore, upon graduation, they usually become confused as to how to handle life and make the best of it, even with top grades and multiple paper qualifications. This can be changed with proper education and enlightenment.”
“You may be aware that the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy under my leadership is pursuing a robust and all-encompassing human capacity development agenda that will create a competitive environment for the development and production of IT goods and services in Nigeria. The various capacity development programmes, especially those in the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) for a Digital Nigeria (NDEPS), have been designed to serve as a foundation for rapid development in all sectors, and we have built hundreds of digital capacity training centres and IT Hubs across the nation to facilitate these programmes.
“We have made concerted efforts to strengthen the capacity of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Departments in Higher Education Institutions (HEIs), Primary and Secondary Schools across the country. At the same time, special capacity building programmes are vigorously being pursued for students, youth and women groups, Artisans, and many others at both the Federal and State levels. The aim is to develop a digitally literate workforce for the government, equipped with the skills required to transform our economy into a knowledge-based economy,’’ Professor Pantami further explained.
He stressed that “The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) and the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) are the main drivers of many of these programmes. We therefore commend the NITDA for partnering with the Jigawa State Government and the Youth and Civil Society Coalition for Development for this laudable initiative.’’
The Minister was represented by Director General, NITDA, Kashifu Inuwa at the event.
The Executive Governor of Jigawa State, Muhammadu Abubakar, represented by Commissioner of Education, Dr Lawan Danzomo, commended the organisers of the event and assured them of the administration’s support for future programmes.
Governor Abubakar said; “education is life, and it is being relied on for social and religious activities. So when there is small leak in education, there will always be a problem.”
He further urged the teachers to discharge their duties properly.
“When we talk about Guidance and Counseling, we are not only coming down to students in the classrooms. Almost all Nigerians need Guidance and Counseling, because it is something that has to do with good behaviour and social relationship.”
“Our two major religions, Islam and Christianity have given us scriptures of Guidance and Counseling, but we have taken different lines of existence and have missed the road. Therefore, we have destabilised our social relationships,” the Governor stated.
Governor Abubakar urged the Guidance and Counseling experts to mentor future leaders to imbibe culture of self-respect and honesty.