Briones: Schools must teach 'real life stories' on dangers of drugs

MANILA, Philippines – The education department wants schools to go beyond textbooks in teaching the dangers of drug abuse in the country.

"Lagyan natin ng reality framework itong pagturo natin ng composition ng drugs. Ang aking iniisip, real life stories: Naloloka sa drugs, nare-rehabilitate, so ngayon maayos na buhay," Education Secretary Leonor Briones said in a DZMM interview on Monday, July 18.

(Let's put a reality framework in the way we teach the composition of drugs. What's in my mind is real life stories: Those whose lives were destroyed because of drugs, when they undergo rehabilitation, their lives get better.)

While Briones said it is important that the school curriculum already warns against drug use, she believes students could better understand if they see real life stories of the effects of drug addiction through films, plays, and dramas.

To make this happen, teachers will also have to be trained, she added.

"Kailangan capacitated teachers para sa pagturo nila may mas puso, kaluluwa 'yung kanilang pagturo sa mga bata. Kasi kung idaan natin sa leksyon, sa libro, sa workbook…. Nasa curriculum na 'yan," Briones explained.

(We have to capacitate our teachers so that they teach our students with heart and soul. We can't just use lectures, books, workbooks…. That's already in the curriculum.)

In 2013, a study showed that the most substantial decline in vices among Filipino youth and young adults was found in drug use. (READ: Music, drugs, and alcohol: Do young Filipinos party to get high?)

The Duterte administration has intensified its crackdown on drugs in the country, with a campaign that has seen hundreds of alleged drug suspects killed in police operations and the surrender of over 60,000 alleged drug addicts. (READ: Rising number of users seeking drug rehab is a 'happy problem' but...)

How do drugs reach schools?

"Sa mga bundok-bundok, mga lugar na ang layo-layo na talaga, ang nagdadala daw ng drugs naman ay 'yung mga habal-habal drivers…. Maraming mga paraan, 'yung iba naman dine-deliver mismo sa gate ng eskwelahan," Briones explained.

(In mountains and in far-flung areas, motorcycle drivers bring the drugs… There are many ways, some deliver even at the school gates.)

She said that drug testing in schools will not be mandatory, and will only be conducted through random sampling. The testing will be based on existing regulations, and will only be allowed with the parents' consent.

"We have to be very careful with the way we treat the child, because this might be a traumatic experience, they might think they are suspected of something…. These are minors, [they] need parental consent," she added in a mix of English and Filipino.

Briones said they're still weighing how to approach drug testing among teachers and school officials.

For now, it will also be done through random sampling, and if the drug problem turns out to be "serious", the department will consider expanding the coverage of the program.

Malacañang has already welcomed calls for all government employees to undergo mandatory drug testing as a "powerful symbolic act" that would "show that the people working in government are good people and they are people worthy of our trust." (READ: Learning from Davao: Health chief eyes community-based drug rehab) – Rappler.com

Jee Y. Geronimo

Jee is part of Rappler's Central Desk, handling most of the world, science, and environment stories on the site. She enjoys listening to podcasts and K-pop, watching Asian dramas, and running long distances. She hopes to visit Israel someday to retrace the steps of her Savior.

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