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More Lao schools set to become drug-free
Publication Date : 09-09-2013
The Vientiane Education and Sports Department is encouraging schools to fight against drug abuse as part of plans to declare another 86 schools drug-free by 2015.
Last academic year more than 10 schools were awarded drug-free certificates, bringing the total number of schools in Vientiane recognised as clean to 65.
However Department Director Somphou Keopanya said he was concerned the department might not be able to certify all 151 private and state-run primary and secondary schools in the city as drug-free in the allotted time.
“As we are aware, drug abuse, especially among young people, has become a pressing issue and it destroys the future of our young people,” he said.
“We will be able to achieve the target by 2015 if all sectors work together.”
Somphou said growing drug abuse among students would make it difficult for officials to achieve their target of making all schools in the capital drug-free.
The department, in collaboration with relevant sectors and with support from a Swedish organisation, initiated the 10-year drug-free school programme in 2006.
Schools must meet 13 criteria before they can be granted drug-free status and those schools that fail to maintain the standard will have their certificates revoked.
Somphou said the goal was to award drug-free certificates to another 50 schools this academic year.
He said urine samples taken from students during inspections over the last year had highlighted a drug problem among youth.
“We observed that more students tested positive for drugs compared to the year before,” he said.
Inspection teams visit schools without informing them beforehand and conduct urine tests on select groups of students.
Under the programme, follow-up inspections are held at schools meeting the criteria to ensure their drug-free status continues. Those who hold the title for three years are awarded a trophy from the Ministry of Education and Sports.
Somphou said many schools had expressed an interest in participating in the scheme. The programme bases its success on the hope that school principals, especially in private schools, will actively participate in the fight against drugs in order to see their schools certified and encourage parents to choose their school for its drug-free status.
“Parents will be more confident if their children enroll in schools that have been issued with drug-free certificates,” Somphou said.
The drug issue has become an increasingly pressing threat to social order and security as well as posing a danger to younger generations.