Education Stakeholders Tells Magoha To Stop ‘Illegal’ Drug Test In Schools.
Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha has been criticized for supporting mandatory drug testing for high school students, which stakeholders have called illegal.
Parents, teachers, lawyers, and counselling psychologists have all expressed outrage over the ongoing forced testing of children, with indications that the case may be taken to court.
Experts argued that the exercise, which began at Maranda School in Siaya County and was supported by Prof Magoha, is an infringement on children’s rights and an invasion of the learners’ privacy.
Lawyer Ken Echesa predicted that the case would end up in court because it is unconstitutional.
“The exercise violates various sections of the Constitution that touch on the right to privacy, children’s rights and discrimination, and must be stopped. It is an unnecessary intrusion on children’s lives,” said Mr Echesa.
He claimed that mandatory tests, even if the results were negative, were not beneficial and would likely have an impact on children’s behaviour and character.
Echesa added that the government should encourage stakeholders such as parents and children to participate in the exercise voluntarily.” And it must be aimed at assisting children rather than victimizing them.
Magoha publicly supported mandatory drug testing, which has now been adopted by many secondary schools, particularly those that had arson cases the previous term. The CS stated that the test would aid in identifying errant students before isolating them in order to keep schools running smoothly.
Mandatory drug tests for students, according to Faith Nafula, a counselling psychologist, are not a solution to indiscipline. She claimed that the exercise would only serve to discourage students from using drugs in order for them to be able to attend school.
“You do not have to be taking drugs for you to exhibit indiscipline. We have other forms of indiscipline in schools like bullying, that is done with sober boys and girls,” said Nafula.
She stated that a negative drug test result does not necessarily imply that the student is fit to attend their respective schools.
Students may have their own reasons for setting fire to schools according to Nafula. Substance abuse may play a role in their bad behaviour, but there may be more to it.
Nafula contended that the immense pressure placed on students to perform academically in order to obtain good grades may be a contributing factor to bad behaviour.
She said communication channels in some schools are not as open to addressing some of the issues that affect them.
According to Caroline Kahiu, a substance abuse prevention advocate, drug testing is more than just having students tested at school or taking them to a local health facility.
“If considered, it should be part of comprehensive intervention. It should be within a facility or program that has experience in the treatment of adolescents because what works for adults may not work well for adolescents,” said Kahiu.
She claims that if the test is performed more than two to three days after the last time drugs were used, it will be negative (window of detection) as the urine sample is overly diluted, substituted with someone else’s sample, or if the sample is adulterated, particularly if there is no direct observation when giving the sample.
And now, parents are demanding that the testing be halted immediately and that consent be granted only in a well-coordinated and managed voluntary exercise aimed at helping children.
“As it is now the mandatory testing in schools is unacceptable and it can be used by some teachers to punish students they wish to victimize,” said Nicholas Maiyo, national parents’ association chairman.
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Maiyo stated that no tests should be administered in schools and that teachers should not coerce parents into consenting to tests.
According to Kahiu, the National Guidelines for Alcohol and Substance Use Prevention and Management in Basic Education Institutions, 2021 explicitly provide a blueprint for basic education institutions, teachers, and caregivers in responding effectively to alcohol and substance use issues in schools.