DepEd hesitant on proposed mandatory drug test for 10 yr old students

MANILA — The Department of Education (DepEd) is hesitant about allowing learners aged 10 years old undergo mandatory drug testing as proposed by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).

“Hindi pa kami kumbinsido na 10 years old. Kasi ang 10 years old na exposure namin sa curriculum sa pagturo ng mga bata dapat pagiingatan natin dito na mae-expose ‘yung mga bata o ‘yung mga learners ‘yung public scrutiny ‘yung kanilang mga identities (We’re not yet convinced that [it should be] 10 years old. We should be careful the children’s or learners’ identities become exposed to public scrutiny),” DepEd Secretary Leonor Briones said in a television interview Thursday night.

In a statement released Thursday night, DepEd said it has an ongoing drug testing program which started in school year 2017-2018 and will be completed in school year 2018-2019.

It covers 1,300 officers and personnel at the central office, 3,800 in the regional offices, and 26,000 in school division offices.

It also covers 10,000 teachers and 21,000 secondary students as sample population which to yield 95 percent statistical confidence level of the result.

DepEd said the drug testing program has the full support of President Rodrigo R. Duterte.

“DepEd is responding to the directive of the President for the department to enhance the curriculum on preventive drug education for the younger learners,” the statement read.

DepEd also noted that the initiative may require the amendment of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 which authorizes drug testing for secondary and tertiary level students only.

To study and compare the objectives of DepEd and PDEA, Briones will be requesting for a meeting with PDEA Director General Aaron Aquino to share DepEd’s program.

On Thursday morning, PDEA proposed drug testing for students grade four and up in public and private schools nationwide. Their proposal was based on one of PDEA’s cases where the youngest drug user captured is 10 years old.

PDEA also suggested a mandatory drug testing for all teachers and school employees as they recently caught two teachers from Butuan City and one from Maguindanao selling drugs.