Drug testing in schools not to criminalize students: DG

The Director General says everything will be carried out with caution

Albeit the education ministry’s initiative to test students on the usage of unlawful controlled drugs and substances, it has no intent to criminalize them as speculated by many but to correct them.

The Director General of the Department of School Education (DSE), who is also the officiating Education Secretary, Karma Gaylay clarified that the larger goal is to eliminate narcotics from schools in an effort to ensure that every student graduating from school becomes a good citizen of the country.

However, he cautioned that students would be sent to rehabilitation facilities, should they come across students with signs of substance use disorder. To this effect, the Ministry of Education has drafted a framework for implementing drug testing in schools.

“Everything will be carried out with caution,” said the Director General.

Besides students, the ministry is also planning to test members of the school staff.

Karma Gaylay also said that the ministry is initially aiming to cover 10% of students and 2% of teachers from 12 schools across the country.

The Director General said that resources and funding is a constraints when it comes to testing every student.

“Before we begin to implement the strategy, we want to make sure that we obtain parental consent and approval from other relevant authorities,” he said. “Depending on the success of the strategy, we will examine it further.”

The Ministry of Education (MoE) announced in a notification on July 20 that MoE in partnership with Bhutan Narcotics Control Authority (BNCA) will be testing staff and students on the usage of unlawful controlled drugs and substances in schools soon.

According to a Thimphu resident, such an initiative should have been implemented a long time back to discourage the use of controlled substances and violence among youth.

Tshering Pelden from Thimphu