The Department of Education (DepEd) is committed on strengthening the drug education program in the country to protect the youth from the adverse effects of dangerous drugs and in support of the Duterte administration’s anti-illegal drug campaign.
In an interview with the Philippine News Agency (PNA), DepEd spokesperson Tonisito Umali, Assistant Secretary for Legislative Affairs, said that the National Drug Education Program (NDEP) is a comprehensive educational program that promotes collaboration among students, teachers and parents in preventing and eliminating the drug menace in the country.
The NDEP consists of five components to create awareness on the ill effects of using illegal drugs: curriculum and instruction; co-curricular and ancillary services; teacher and staff development; parent education and community outreach and research, monitoring and evaluation.
According to Umali, DepEd has integrated lessons that tackle the pernicious effects on the use of illegal drugs, how to handle peer pressure, values education to discourage students on using illegal drugs, among others in the Music, Arts, Physical Education and Health (MAPEH) classes for secondary education.
The identification of common illegal drugs being used and their effects to human health are also integrated in the science classes of secondary education students.
Furthermore, the department has established Barkada Kontra Droga (BKD) a peer-based program designed as a preventive education and information tool to counter the dangers and disastrous effects of drug abuse.
BKD chapters in schools across the country are aimed to empower in and out of school youth in organizing a movement of young people who are catalysts within their peer groups in advocating a healthy drug-free lifestyle.
“We are aiming to develop the skills and understanding not only of our students but our faculty including the parents on how to support programs that will prevent their children from using illegal drugs, increase community awareness and identify best practices to combat the threat of illegal drugs in society,” the DepEd official said.
DepEd will also conduct random drug testing to secondary students, elementary and secondary school teachers, and officers and personnel from the Central, Regional and School Division offices.
The random drug testing is part of DepEd’s support to the government’s efforts against illegal drugs and is mandated by Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.
Orientation trainings among DepEd personnel will be provided in preparation for the random drug testing of students, teachers and personnel for this year.
The orientation training seeks to provide awareness on the legal and regulatory aspect of drug testing; orient and train Regional and Schools Division personnel on specimen collection and testing; discuss the initial assessment and intervention for students found to be positive for illegal drug use; and to train participants on documentation and recording of drug testing process.
DepEd will conduct the orientation seminars in six clusters in the following locations: Angeles City (for Regions II and III); Manila (for Regions IV-A, IV-B, V and VIII); Cebu City (for Regions VI and VII); Davao City (for Regions IX, XI, XII, ARMM); Cagayan de Oro (for Region X and CARAGA); and Baguio City (for Regions I and CAR).
Among other initiatives being implemented by the department include intensifying anti-drug abuse information campaigns, supporting the activities planned by the designated regional and schools division NDEP coordinators and involving Parent-Teacher-Community Associations and student organizations in drug abuse prevention activities.
The DepEd has also partnered with the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) and other government and nongovernment agencies to strengthen the advocacy campaign against illegal drugs.
For instance, the Philippine National Police (PNP) and DDB have prepared modules that are patterned after international drug education programs such as the United States based Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) which may be adopted by schools to further intensify their campaign against illegal drug abuse.
“We assure that the NDEP shall be gender-sensitive, age-appropriate, and it will be delivered in a manner that is creative to encourage active participation through means of role-playing, video clippings, educational modules, among others,” Umali said.
Establishment of National Anti-Illegal Drug Campaign and Research Program
The DepEd is supporting a legislative measure in Congress which calls for the establishment of an Anti-Illegal Drug Campaign and Research (AIDCARE) Fund to institutionalize a national anti-illegal drug campaign and research program in the Philippines.
“We support the bill calling for the establishment of an anti-illegal drug research program in the country. This supports our initiative to strengthen the drug education program in the country,” according to Umali.
Aurora Rep. Bellaflor Angara-Castillo has filed HB 1663 which calls for the establishment of a National AIDCARE Program which will provide an opportunity for drug abusers to reform their lives as they are merely victims of drug lords who control the massive illegal drug trade in the country.
The AIDCARE Fund will be used to create a nationwide education and awareness program on illegal drugs which shall be created by DepEd that may either be included in the K-12 curriculum or instituted as a regular and frequent co-curricular activity or event done in all public schools covering all areas of basic education.
It will also support the implementation of a mandatory training for local government unit personnel involved with the enforcement, research and policy-making on illegal drugs; conduct of a national study on the nature and extent of drug abuse; establish a national helpline for drug abusers and create a public registry of drug dealers, pushers and traffickers.
Such fund will be included under the annual budgets of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), DepEd, DDB, and Philippine Drug Enforcement Authority (PDEA). (Aerol B. Patena/PNA)