Newspaper clipping – The Mercury – 10 October 2008

Random drug testing for KZN schools next year

By Sibusiso Mboto

About 100 schools in KwaZulu-Natal will be armed with a new device that will allow the random testing of urine samples for drug use on pupils by early next year.

This was revealed during the School Safety Summit held in Pietermaritzburg on Thursday, where drug abuse among pupils was described as the main cause of violent behaviour at schools.

The countrywide roll-out of the device has received the blessing of the national education department. Two teachers (a male and a female) would be identified at each school to undergo a workshop on conducting tests and use of the devices.

Project director Shaheed Shaik predicted that the project would yield good results. According to Shaik, a school with 1000 pupils would need 200 such devices, which were used once and then discarded.
“You would not be testing the entire school population, but carefully selecting individuals with unusual behavioural patterns,” he said.
Such patterns could include bloodshot eyes, aggression and a lack of attention during class.
“Those identified will attend workshops twice a week and undergo a month-long programme, before another test which, if positive, would see pupils sent for counseling outside the school environment,” Shaik said. He conceded that the project needed the support of parents.

Education MEC Ina Cronje said the summit was meant to improve safety at the schools, which, she said, should not be regarded as solely the department’s burden.
“The problem is complex, but not insurmountable. We need to stop finger-pointing and looking for easy solutions,” she said.