Within just a few days of a new executive branch in the Philippines, basic education is tasked to help solve a growing drug abuse problem in the country. It is indeed tempting to throw every problem at schools since it is believed to have the widest reach. President Duterte apparently has ordered a drug literacy program starting at fourth grade. It is not clear whether such move is based on evidence. Such program may just be another wild guess added to a curriculum that is already lacking support from research. Although an accumulation of knowledge is certainly important in basic education, drug abuse is one area where evidence suggests that teaching life skills may be more effective. Humans have a natural tendency to find meaning or purpose in life. In Turkey, for instance, Eyrilmax reports in the paper, "Meaning of life-setting life goals: comparison of substance abusers
" (Turkish Psychological Counseling and Guidance Journal, 5(42), 235–243), that youth who do not use illicit drugs tend to have a purpose in life and have found meaning from their environment. Philippines' DepEd secretary Leonor Briones is taking quite a different angle. She is quoted by The Inquirer, “The composition is more from the science point of view—its impact on the body but not so much on the practical matters.” Briones then raises the importance of teaching children how to spot drug pushers.
It is true that I have not been in the Philippines for quite some time but I highly doubt that drug pushers in the Philippines are now going out of their way to get young children addicted to drugs. Drug use is about peers. It is something social. Drug abuse is also associated with dropping out of school or at least, not attending classes. The youth are essentially not attracted to illegal drug just because of some pusher's advertisement. The youth oftentimes actively seek drugs so that they could have a sense of belonging. A school that lacks a sense of community, a school that fails to show a caring attitude toward children, a school that does not promote academic achievement, these are the real drug pushers.
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