The Department of Education (DepEd) announced Wednesday it will conduct anew its nationwide Random Drug Testing (RDT) this coming school year in private and public secondary schools.
The order is a follow-up to its drug test in 2009 where 72 out of 29,059 students tested positive for drug use or a prevalence rate of 0.24 percent.
Majority of the students who were confirmed positive for illegal drug use were from Metro Manila.
DepEd Assistant Secretary and Spokesperson Jonathan Malaya said the RDT was conducted among secondary students from February to December last year through the collaborated efforts of DepEd, Department of Health (DoH), and the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB).
“It was conducted among secondary students in compliance with a presidential directive to include for testing all public and private secondary schools,” he said.
In more than 10,000 schools where the RDT was conducted, the initial results showed that there were 90 positive cases from the screening test. “But the final results show that 72 were confirmed wherein 70 students use marijuana and two use shabu,” said Malaya.
Although it was revealed that there was 0.24 percent or less than one percent confirmed positive from the testing, DepEd was saddened by the final result. “We are half-heartened but rest assured that we will strengthen our campaign against illegal drug use. It does not start and end here,” Malaya added.
To ensure that the 23 million incoming elementary and high school students will be informed about illegal drug use and its ill effects, DepEd continues to strengthen the implementation of the National Drug Education Program (NDEP).
“This gives emphasis to the integration of drug prevention concepts in appropriate subject or learning areas at both elementary and secondary levels and alternative learning system, and in co-curricular activities,” explained Malaya.
Although there is a relatively low rate of drug use among secondary students in the 2009 RDT, DepEd encouraged NDEP program coordinators to urge principals of schools – those who have students with positive cases – to come up with specific interventions.
“They are also encouraged to conduct periodic monitoring of program implementation in close coordination with the local government units and other concerned government and non-government organizations,” said Malaya.
DepEd also lauded the efforts of guidance counselors in the secondary schools because they were the ones who were more active in initiating different school activities that were geared toward drug abuse prevention.
Last year, DepEd and DoH officials discussed the coverage and the best practices as well as the issues and concerns for the program with RDT team members. The 2010 Work and Financial Plan for the drug testing and intervention was also formulated.