Pubdate: Wed, 09 Jun 2004
Source: Cape Times (South Africa)
Copyright: 2004 Cape Times
Author: Kashiefa Ajam
Bookmark: (Youth)


Cape Town headmasters are becoming increasingly concerned about the 
consequences their pupils face when experimenting with drugs and say the 
education department must remove its "blinkers" and take proactive steps 
against drug abuse among pupils.

Riyaadh Najaar, principal of Spine Road High School in Mitchell's Plain, 
said the government "clearly" did not have an effective strategy in place 
to combat the effects of drug abuse.

He said the new drug called "tuk-tuk" had become popular among pupils as it 
was easily available from drug dealers in most areas.

"The government has done nothing. They are just not serious about the 
scourge of drugs that has bedevilled our community. It is destroying our 

Najaar said parents of pupils flooded to the school daily seeking advice 
about their children who had become addicts.

"I do not know what to say to these parents. And they get very annoyed. I 
do not want to suggest rehabilitation centres because I think it has become 
a lucrative business. We should not be seeking a cure for the problem, we 
should have prevented it in the first place," Najaar said.

Deputy principal at Milnerton High School, David Wigget, said the 
government should consider taking a proactive approach against drugs.

"There are a lot of assumptions being made by people in higher authority as 
to what our children need.

"The problem is that we should not try to catch out the ones who are on 
drugs but help those who have a


"We should meet the kids where they are - try to find out why they are 
doing drugs.

"What the education department is doing is reacting to drugs - reacting to 
the problem it has created," Wigget said.

Responding to the headmasters' concerns, new MEC for Education, Cameron 
Dugmore, said drug-taking in schools was part of a much broader and deeper 
problem and it would be extremely dangerous to pretend that there was an 
easy solution to eradicate it.

"We must intensify existing strategies as well as come up with new ones to 
combat this problem.

"The premier has promised to arrest the three biggest drug dealers in the 
province in the next 100 days. That is an indication of the political will 
from our new government in the province.

"We know that the removal of these three drug dealers from our communities 
will not remove the problem, but it will assist."

Dugmore acknowledged that "tuk-tuk" was a dangerous development in the drug 
world but said the government also had to focus on the abuse of other drugs 
such as dagga and Mandrax.

"Another part of the solution is for learners to take a decision and to 
ensure that there is no place for drugs in schools - they must come forward 
and expose those who are abusing it and selling it."

Dugmore encouraged learners to call the department's call centre number - 
0800 45 46 47 - to report any crime incidents, such as drug peddling at school.
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