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Testing students for drugs bitter pill to swallow but necessary

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The country is currently in a catch 22 situation over the decision to test students for drugs or not.

This is with regards to the recent wave of unrest in schools that paralyzed learning and leaving the education sector in a limbo.

There are conflicting viewpoints with regards to this topic that has led to education stakeholders among them Parents, Teachers, Government and the general public being for or against the decision to test students for drugs.

The testing of students for drugs debate was brought to the fore by Maranda high School which ordered its students to undergo a drug and substance test before they were readmitted to the institution when schools opened in January 2022.

The move was taken after the school last year experienced unrest that led to burning of dorms and indefinite closure of the National school.

A message that was sent to Parents by the schools Principla Edwin Namachanja required all students to take a drug test while at home.

“This must be done at a public health facility or Nacada. The certificates of the same are to be presented on the reopening day. Subsequently there shall be random testing conducted by the school.” The letter from the school to Parents read.

Meanwhile education Cabinet secretary Professor Geore Magaoha has publicly shown his support on the mandatory drug test for students in the country.

He said some students were using drugs which he says explains the recent wave of unrest in schools adding that through testing the government will be able to identify unruly students and dealt with to ensure the smooth operations in schools,

“Drug testing is very thoroughly in order because children are using drugs…..I don’t know why you want me to comment on the obvious. And let me tell you when we do that (drug test) is not that we hate our children,” Magoha said while addressing the press during the launch of CBC classrooms in Kisumu east.

But Magoha’s sentiments have not been taken well by a section of stakeholders in fact the National Authority for the campaign against Alcohol and drug abuse NACADA distanced itself from a directive that had been implemented by some schools across the country including Maranda high school which ordered students to undertake drug tests at government institutions including Nacada.

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Nacada did clarify that it does not conduct any drug tests and it has not instructed any school to do so. The institution also added that there was no law that allows any schools to force students to undertake drug tests.

“The Authority wishes to from the onset clarify that it does not conduct any drug testing we also wish to state that there is currently no law in the country making drug testing mandatory for learners,” the statement read.

Nacada also noted that research also proves that mandatory drug tests alone cannot be a solution to the increasing cases of schools unrests.

“We further advise that even when conducted, drug testing should be part of a comprehensive intervention program and thus should not be used as a sole solution to the problem of alcohol and even drug abuse in institutions of learning.” The statement read.

Teachers have also not been left behind in this debate; in fact they have come out guns blazing through their union terming the mandatory drug testing as retrogressive.

Through Kenya Union of Post primary education Teachers KUPPET chairperson Omboko Milemba, they termed the move as unfair.

“It vilifies the students as a suspect who is taking drugs and without giving them a chance to defend themselves. Who will speak for the students given that the testing is mandatory and they are undergoing it as a forceful measure?” Milemba asked.

Nevertheless I do not subscribe to the above ideology; I am a stickler for the rules especially when it comes to the education sector and issues school management in particular. I mean why would a person resist such a test on our children? I thought this was being taken to streamline the unruliness in schools that have wreaked havoc for quite some time now. In fact I do blame Parents for these unrests and high indiscipline among our children in schools. I mean why should a parent be afraid? Or is the parent trying to protect his/her child who he/she knows is guilty?

Let us not look at the negative side of this initiative by schools, but from a positive side. it is positive when a parent learns that his/her child is free of drugs , and in circumstances where the parent learns that his/her child is involved in drugs it will give the opportunity for the parent to look for solutions in helping the child to get out of the drug challenge, not leaving out the schools too.

Remember change is inevitable.

BY WEMA TOYWA   #WEMA’STAKE

VIDEO OF THE DAY; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m0ikCNXrlSQ

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