Schools may begin testing pupils for drugs ahead of pilot scheme

PUBLISHED : Friday, 19 June, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 19 June, 2009, 12:00am

A voluntary drug-testing scheme might be introduced in some schools in September, before an official pilot scheme due to be launched next year.

Action Committee Against Narcotics chairman Daniel Shek Tan-lei said as there was strong public concern about drug use among youngsters, some schools might want to adopt the voluntary test earlier.

'Society seems to want to speed up the introducing of voluntary drug test at schools, so we give schools which want to do so another option, which is to adopt the voluntary drug test in the coming school year in September instead of waiting until the official launch of the pilot scheme next year,' Professor Shek said after a meeting of the committee.

'We do not expect many schools to take part and we do not want to have many schools doing the test, as a thorough study on the scheme still has not been started.'

Introducing the drug test in some schools in September this year would be helpful to make the scheme run smoothly in the future, he said. 'With some schools doing the voluntary drug test before the pilot scheme, experience gained will be very useful for future use.'

Professor Shek said schools in Tai Po and North District had expressed interest. 'But it is still not certain if schools will really sign up to do the test, as they have their own considerations such as the labelling effect.'

A set of guidelines would be given to schools that wished to introduce the test in the coming school year.

'The appointed consultant will study the scheme and help draw up a protocol for schools to follow when the pilot scheme is officially launched next year,' Professor Shek said.

The chairman of the Hong Kong Association of Heads of Secondary Schools, Wong Wai-yu, welcomed the move to speed up the introduction of voluntary drug testing.

'The problem is affecting schools of all kinds of banding. We also hope the scheme will be introduced as soon as possible. Privacy and human rights should not be compared to the valuable life of a youngster. The scheme is designed to save lives.'

The pilot scheme was originally planned to be introduced in 2011 and the date was brought forward by a year after a spate of drug incidents involving students were reported.