The National Authority for the Campaign Against Alcohol and Drug Abuse (NACADA) has broken its silence about the ongoing debate on mandatory drug tests for high school students amid a surge in indiscipline cases.
In a statement to newsrooms on Thursday, NACADA CEO Victor G. Okioma stated that there is no law currently that requires schools to test students for drug use.
Okioma, however, advised that even when conducted, drug testing should be part of a comprehensive intervention program and thus should not be used as a sole solution to the problem of alcohol and substance abuse in institutions of learning.
“Research has proven that drug testing does not work as a stand-alone intervention but should be within a continuum of services designed to enhance management of drug abuse and public safety,” said Okioma while responding to concerns from parents and guardians.
According to the institution, drug testing is recommended as part of incident management and it should be within a licensed and accredited facility.
Okioma noted that the window of detection varies amongst drugs thus some may not show up during testing.
“It should, therefore, not be used as a deterrent measure as a negative test does not necessarily mean that the student is not using drugs or alcohol,” he added.
As part of efforts to deal with the drug abuse issue, he urged school administrators to implement the National Guidelines for Alcohol and Substance Use Prevention and Management in Basic Education Institutions, 2021.
“They provide a comprehensive evidence-based approach in responding to issues related to alcohol and drug abuse,” he stated.
“A copy of the guidelines is available on our website www.nacada.qo.ke/publications As part of our role in the implementation of the guidelines, we are ready to support schools to develop and implement evidence-based interventions that will promote a safe and healthy environment free from alcohol and drug use.”
Drug testing should be part of a comprehensive intervention program and thus should not be used as a sole solution to the problem of alcohol and substance abuse in institutions of learning. pic.twitter.com/3avIJKY1hk
— NACADA Kenya (@NACADAKenya) January 6, 2022
NACADA is a Semi-Autonomous State Corporation under the Ministry of Interior and Coordination of National Government.
The institution issued the statement days after Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha backed a move by Maranda High School management to demand drug tests from students before readmission in January after a dormitory fire at the school.
Addressing members of the press in Mombasa last week, the CS said it was high time such measures were implemented due to the recent spike in unruly behavior in schools.
He indicated there is evidence some students are using drugs.
“A drug test is thoroughly in order because children are using drugs. Are you doubting it?” He posed.
The minister suggested that the indiscipline witnessed recently in schools is a result of a lack of parental guidance.
“Children do not need money, they need your time. You must allow your child to go through life,” he remarked.
He vowed to ensure students involved in unruly behavior such as arson cases are dealt with accordingly.