By Ina Hernando Malipot
The Department of Education is hesitant to allow learners 10-years-old and above to undergo mandatory drug testing as proposed by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency.
It cited cost implications, legal issues, and its ongoing initiatives to support the government’s war on drugs.
“Hindi pa kami kumbinsido na 10-years-old. Kasi ang 10-years-old na exposure namin sa curriculum sa pagturo ng mga bata dapat pag-iingatan natin dito na mae-expose ‘yung mga bata o ‘yung mga learners ‘yung public scrutiny ‘yung kanilang mga identities,” DepEd Secretary Leonor Briones said.
Briones said that the plan will cost the government millions of pesos. DepEd data showed that there are around 14 million students – from Grade 4 (the grade level of 10-year-old learners) to Grade 12.
“At R200 per student for the testing fee alone, the budget will already amount to P2.8 billion,” DepEd said. “There are considerable related costs for capacity-building and mobilization for the conduct of the drug testing,” it added.
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 officials 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 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,” it said.