Mr Ambrose Derry, Minister for the Interior designate, says the wrong use of drugs is threatening Ghana’s socio-economic development and must be addressed in time.
He said the situation had accounted for abnormal behaviour among the youth including poor academic performances, increase in hostility towards others, increase in absenteeism in school, self-exclusion, memory loss, and short attention span.
The Minister-designate said this when he received a report from an 11-member Consultative Committee set-up by the President to combat the drug menace in schools.
The Committee is made up of representatives from the Interior Ministry, Ministry of Education, National Youth Authority, Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection (MoGCSP), National Security Council, Ghana Revenue Authority, Narcotic Control Commission, Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) and the Ministry of Finance.
It was headed by Mr Bright Appiah, Executive Director of Child Rights International.
He said President Nana Addo Dankwa Akuffo-Addo’s government was committed to developing Ghana beyond aid but that could only be achieved through quality man-power, hence the need to deal with the menace.
Mr Derry commended the Committee for its commitment and assured the members that the report would be discussed for the necessary action to be taken.
Mr Appiah, presenting the report, said the Committee was mandated to find out the sources and drug use among students in second cycle schools.
He said the Committee, which was set-up a year ago, understudied 176 schools across the Country, engaged 10 psychiatric hospitals, contacted 138 Heads of schools as well as 72 counselling and Guidance Units of schools for primary data, adding that it also reviewed other research works by the FDA, Ghana Police Service and MoGCSP.
The report said 36.4 per cent of students had experimented with more than two drug substances with the drugs varying from boys to girls.
According to the report, boys 59.4 per cent tended to use cigarette more than girls, Cannabis 54.1 per cent and 30 per cent alcohol.
On the other hand, the girls use more Shisha, representing 34.3 percent and alcohol 32.1 per cent.
About 88.6 per cent of the sample size underwent stress and drug was the major influencer.
The drugs were readily available and accessible all over the place, school campuses and over the counter whether legal or illegal.
Mr Appiah said students failed to report such acts on campuses among their colleagues to school authorities.
He recommended the strengthening of the social support system to help students’ development, especially provide quality and enough food for them as 64 per cent of the stress depended on their eating habits.
Mr Appiah said that was necessary because some respondents said they took the drugs to avoid hunger.
The Executive Director said rehabilitation centres should be attached to district hospitals to cater to students with mental problems rather than having them in the psychiatric hospitals to avoid stigmatisation.
He called for research to establish a framework on how to deal with the menace, saying, what made the students use drugs bothered on public health issue than criminality.
Thus, the process for resolving the concerns should not only be punitive but reformative, Mr Appiah added.