PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 08 September, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 08 September, 2009, 12:00am

What do you think of the revisions to the drug-testing scheme?

Under the new changes, police will play no part in voluntary drug testing and students who refuse will no longer be required to undergo counselling ('Changes keep police out of drug testing', September 4).

That makes the revised scheme useless.

Even though I understand the reasons for the amendments - so students do not feel like criminals and there is better protection of people's privacy - I think the changes will harm the scheme.

Social workers say Tai Po students have been asking for help with their drug problems. This indicates that young people who are willing to admit they have a problem will seek help.

What about those who are not willing to face their problems and do not want anyone to know about them?

Because of the changes, students who refuse to have the test will no longer be required to undergo counselling. This means that their drug problem will remain hidden.

Counselling was supposed to find out why a teenager had refused to submit to the test. Taking out this process at this stage means that drug-free students will be happy to take the test, but it is not really aimed at them.

The only way around this problem is for pupils to be taught in schools about the importance of participating in the scheme.

I think once students realise this, the participation rate will increase. However, we have to ask how useful the scheme will be.

Chan Wai-yu, Tsuen Wan

I think it was a reasonable decision to exclude police involvement in the drug-testing scheme. If police were to take part, it would complicate matters.

Had officers been informed of any positive tests, they would have been obliged to take follow-up action, and try to find out the source of the drugs and identity of the supplier.

This would have put a lot of pressure on the students. They might have ended up worse off than they were before the tests had taken place.

However, given that students can refuse to take the test, I wonder how many who have a serious drug problem will refuse.

Although social workers and teachers can try to find out why a student refused the test, it will be of little help if a young person has a habit and continues to try and hide that from the school.

Meiling Tsang, Sha Tin

Now that the scheme has been revised I think there will be more students willing to take part because they will appreciate that schools and society want to help them.

Without participation of the police, students will no longer worry about being prosecuted or even arrested over the drug tests. This may encourage more to agree to the tests, then the school can determine the pupils who have a problem and they can be given help.

Hopefully, the students who are taking drugs will appreciate that schools want to help them, not treat them like criminals.

It is important to remove any mistrust and hostility that may exist between students and schools. Once troubled students are willing to accept the help offered by schools, one of the goals of the test will have been achieved.

I think that once a positive result is confirmed, a case conference must be held immediately.

Teachers and social workers must talk issues through with the parents, calm them down once they have been given the news and offer them some guidance. Parents need to appreciate that it takes time to help young people who have a drug problem to recover. All three parties should work out a plan to help the pupil.

The affected teenager must be made aware of the threat drugs pose to their mental and physical health, and the social problems they will experience if they continue.

Although schools will not volunteer drug-test results to police, schools should still co-operate with officers in efforts to target drug traffickers and dealers, and keep them away from schools.

This scheme offers a chance to identify teenagers with a drug problem and help them while they are still studying, and they can be counselled before drugs destroy their lives.

Alfred Li, Kwun Tong

Should children get 15 years of free education?

Education is so important for young people. In Hong Kong, the gap between the rich and poor is growing rapidly.

Everyone has the right to go to school and the government has a responsibility to ensure every citizen is given the opportunity to learn.

Hong Kong should learn from Europe and countries such as Finland. There, all the citizens enjoy free education from kindergarten to university.

Finnish parents do not have to worry about having enough money to educate their children.

Children are the future pillars of our society. They should not be deprived of the right to a proper education.

Germain Ma, Sha Tin

On other matters ...

Hong Kong is a 24-hour city. Many people in the private sector need to work shifts, which can mean working at night and doing overtime.

Ap Lei Chau Public Library is closed on Thursdays.

While staff enjoy the same weekday holiday, residents suffer.

Children, students, housewives and the elderly people who need the services the library provides either have to pay HK$5 for a minibus or walk to Aberdeen Public Library, which is open the whole week. Libraries are there to serve the public and the closure on a Thursday predates the handover.

It is an outdated practice, especially in today's information age and knowledge-oriented society.

The Leisure and Cultural Services Department needs to have a rethink and reallocate resources so that it meets the needs of Ap Lei Chau residents, just like Aberdeen Public Library does.

For the sake of residents, the Southern District Council should support this proposed change.

T.L. Lam, Ap Lei Chau