Drug prevention plan for primary schools introduced by Breathnach

 

THE Minister for Education, Ms Breathnach, has introduced a national drug prevention programme for primary schools in a school in Dublin's north inner city.

Speaking to the combined pupils and staff of the boys' and girls' national schools in St Mary's Place, Ms Breathnach said the programme had three strands awareness and information initiatives for school managements, teachers and parents; preparation and dissemination of educational materials; and a particular focus on areas where serious drugs, especially heroin, are abused.

She said parents expected children to grow up to learn English, Irish writing, sums and prayer. Most of all they expected them to grow up "to be healthy through the education system". Young people had a right "to expect to grow up into a lifestyle not dominated by drugs".

The information booklets for teachers and parents will not be ready until after Easter. The education materials are being developed on a pilot basis in 26 primary schools in Dublin, Cork, and Donegal.

The three year programme, monitored by a steering committee representing the Departments of Education, Health and Justice, plus management bodies, teacher unions and parents' bodies, will cost £460,000.

It will be overseen by Ms Bernie Collins, who has been seconded from her teaching job in Clonburris National School in Clondalkin.

Ms Breathnach paid tribute to "those communities which have suffered so much from the scourge of drug misuse but which have come together to tackle the problem in very positive ways." She singled out for mention the Inner City Organisations Network and the Inter Agency Drugs Project.

In a colourfully decorated classroom, a group of bright and articulate 10 and 11 year old girls spoke about how widespread the drug problem is in their areas, from East Wall to Hardwicke Street, from Fitzgibbon Street to Phibsborough.

Every one of them had seen drugs being sold and used. They talked about the cousins, aunts, uncles and even parents of children in the school being on drugs. "You're not only letting down yourself when you take drugs - you're letting down your family and your community," said one girl, whose uncle is a drug user.