Over 100 secondary school pupils have been awarded scholarship in Awka community and suburbs by the Awka Development Union Nigeria (ADUN). The scholarship presentation held at St. John of God Secondary School, Awka, the Anambra State capital, was part of the association’s activities to mark its second edition of “Awka Students Achievers Day”. The awardees, comprising indigenes and non-indigenes of the town, were drawn from various secondary schools across the state. The association’s President-General, Dr Amobi Nwokafor, said the event was targeted at reducing the cases of dropouts, cultism and drug abuse among the pupils. He said: “The union uses the opportunity to re-awaken the consciousness of students to the reality of being leaders of tomorrow. If the students failed, we have failed as a town. We want to refocus the students, so they can follow good footsteps and do greater exploits.” Nwokafor said 50 pupils got scholarships under the initiative held for the first time last year. “We are expanding the second edition by doubling the scholarship because of the positive fruits we saw the past edition yielding. “Half will be on merit and the rest will be for indigent students,” he added. He expressed optimism on the sustenance of the project by the next administration. “The programme is critical and highly acceptable initiative that involves both short term and long term plans to educate and evolve the minds of the students,” he said. The president-general urged the pupils to reciprocate the gesture by being committed to their studies. Delivering a lecture titled: “Drug use and abuse,” a pharmacist and toxicologist at Madona University, Prof Zelingo Igweze, regretted that drug abuse had infiltrated every fabric of the educational system. She observed that there were more cases of drug abuse in public schools than in private schools due to stringent measures adopted in private schools. Igweze, who is also the Head of Department, Pharmacy and Toxicology, encouraged teachers to assist victims of drug abuse through advice and counselling. “Parents should give attention and be closer to their children in order to know when they start abusing substances or drugs,” she said. She warned the pupils on the dangers of drug abuse to the kidney, liver and brain, calling on the government, media and civil society organisations to increase awareness programmes to curb the menace. “Being a drug addict will make the student less intelligent as well as affect their physiological and psychological wellbeing,” she said. On his part, Prof Clifford Nwanna, who spoke on cultism, reminded his audience that cultism would ruin their future. He enjoined them to engage themselves meaningfully and eschew idleness, which he said could lead to joining secret groups. Nwanna further urged tertiary institutions not to hesitate in rusticating any student found guilty of cultism, as well as reward those who fight cultism.
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