Sun, May 14, 2017 - Page 3 News List

MOE to step up drug prevention

CRACKDOWN:The ministry has told police departments to identify ‘hotspots’ for illegal drug sales and to step up inspections on chat groups and instant messaging

By Sean Lin  /  Staff reporter

The Ministry of Education yesterday said that it would step up measures to keep illegal drugs away from schools in response to the threat posed by new types of drugs that have found popularity among young people.

Under a Cabinet initiative launched in December last year, the education ministry has teamed up with agencies to improve drug prevention measures, ministry division head Wei Shih-che (魏仕哲) said.

With the help of the National Police Agency, the ministry compiled a list of students and dropouts aged under 24 with records of drug abuse, Wei said.

Most people finish graduate school at the age of 24, making it possible for the ministry to identify offenders through a database managed by the police and prevent drugs from entering schools, he said.

As a substantial number of drug offenders are former students who have been suspended or expelled from schools, the ministry has asked authorities at the local level to use the education ministry’s query system containing files on former students, so that those who have been implicated in cases of drug abuse can be found and offered counseling, he said.

The education ministry has also instructed local education departments to streamline collaboration with police departments to identify “hotspots” for illegal drug sales and to step up inspections on chat groups and instant messaging software to help them crack down on young people selling drugs or organizing drug parties, he said.

Asked how the ministry plans to respond to the threat of a new generation of drugs trafficked as snacks — such as jelly candies and instant coffee packets — Wei said that the police update the education ministry when they discover new drugs, so that the information can be passed on to schools.

Teachers, parents and volunteers would then educate students from elementary through high school about drugs that are disguised as food products and tactics used by drug dealers to seduce young people into taking drugs, so as to raise students’ awareness about drug abuse, he said.

According to curriculum guidelines developed by the National Academy for Educational Research, high schools should allot two hours of class time each semester to teach students about the threat posed by drugs, while junior-high and elementary-school students should receive at least one hour of education on the topic every semester, he said.

Wei said the agencies meet regularly to exchange ideas on drug abuse prevention and share their latest findings, he said.

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