Of significant relevance among these schools are the huge strides made with the Delhi Public Society. Today, it stands as an example for all other schools, holding the
'I Decide- I will not take drugs', baton as a perpetuating value for its students to follow.
Under the programme, two nodal teachers are trained on the subject of drug abuse prevention. These nodal teachers then conduct the programme for students of class VI- VII off their respective school, using training material and modules developed by UNODC. This training was conducted with nodal teachers of the DPS Society from the 30 August to 1 September 2007 in Delhi. Thereafter, the programme activities were taken up by the different schools using the 5-7 hour lesson plans, during the academic year of 2007-2008.
Teachers take the lead
An outstanding achievement of this dialogue was the unanimous and wholehearted commitment of every nodal teacher. Each of these teachers went a step ahead to innovate creative ways of implementing the programme, despite the rigors of a demanding syllabus.
Students of DPS actively engage in a role play activity on drug abuse prevention
Students are being engaged in a variety of activities and interesting competitions. Some of these are, reverse advertising on the topic, "Stay Clear- Drug Abuse Causes Permanent Damage to your body and Mind" to highlight those aspects that advertisements fail to portray; letter writing competitions to celebrities like Shahrukh Khan, telling him not to smoke in public and the dangers of cigarette smoking to his own health; face painting and mask making to highlight ways of creative expression as an alternative to drug use; a drug- myths and facts quiz and role play activities for the smaller classes. After the programme, one student claimed,
"Initially when the topic began in class, I thought, wow…free period! But as time passed and I saw the plays followed one after the other by students present, I felt like participating myself too."
Teachers, parents and students watch with rapt attention, a street play on ways of saying 'No' to drugs
Some DPS schools are conducting the lesson plans under 5 conceptual heads to adapt to what would work best in their respective school- 'Dealing with feelings', 'Myths and misconceptions about drug abuse', 'Why do young people use drugs', 'The consequences of drugs', 'Is change possible?', and 'Ways of dealing with risk situations'.
Brochures on 'Talk to your child about drug abuse' provided by UNODC are being distributed at parent-teacher meetings. Students are also taking up varied initiatives to re-enforce the message on drug abuse prevention. A special assembly on drug abuse prevention was conducted by students from one of the DPS schools. With an innovative skit on, 'How to say No to drugs' this assembly was judged the "The Best Assembly of the Year". A short
film on 'peer pressure' provided by UNODC was also screened at this gathering of eager students.
'I Decide' clubs
An exhibition on drug abuse prevention, organized by the students from the 'I Decide' club
The 'I Decide' clubs envisioned under the programme are a thriving reality today. All DPS schools have come forward to form their own clubs. There is a constant request for the campaign badges, brochures,
10 key messages on prevention and other material from each of these schools. This is an indicator of the huge popularity that the 'I Decide' campaign and club enjoys among students. A student of class IX has rightly stated,
"Being a part of the 'I Decide' clubs is very empowering. We learnt to make the right choice". Some of the DPS schools have an encouraging membership of 300 students making it one of the largest 'I Decide' clubs. Some schools have also pledged to reach out, through their 'I Decide' clubs', to other schools in the locality.
Making a difference:
"The drug Abuse Awareness Programme was a great learning experience for me. As a teacher I was a little hesitant to discuss this topic with students due to lack of material. Now I feel that I have empowered the children to some extent. I am proud to be a part of this program", as said by a teacher facilitator. Teachers across all DPS schools felt that the programme had helped them start an important dialogue on drug abuse prevention with students. They believed that drug abuse was a glaring gap that had not been adequately addressed by the current education syllabus. It also helped teachers identify core insights that link with drug use choices among youth. Significant of these was the factor of peer pressure. Another factor was that of experimentation, where students stated that they were unsure of how much use could make them an addict.
One of the main outcomes of the programme was a significant change in awareness on the issue of drugs. A teacher from DPS said,
"This activity was a step in the right direction. Students greatly benefited from this because it helped them to clarify many doubts." This one of its kind and focused initiative with students clarified important myths pertaining to drug abuse. It established an extremely important link- that between drug abuse and HIV/AIDS. Many students stated that they had become vary of trying drugs after understanding the ingredients of drugs and their harmful effects of drugs.
Another feat of the programme was a visible shift in attitude among students. Schools reported that students were able to suggest their own ways on how to say to 'No' to peer pressure. They realized what it means to trust their abilities to make correct choices and understood how they could have a good time with friends by doing other things. A student of DPS said,
"Apart from learning about the long term harms caused due to drugs. We have learnt how important it is to be self-opinionated. We now know how to recognize a 'true friend' and to stay away or try to improve the habits of a friend who has succumbed to the temptation of drugs."
"Be the change you wish in the world" a quote by Mahatma Gandhi is what many teachers believed, truly reflected the spirit this programme has imparted. Today, after the programme, many more youth are willing to talk about drugs. They are motivated to spread the message of drug abuse prevention (Toll Free Helpline 1800-11-3872) for peers in other schools and for the community.
Young, seeking minds-unite in their pledge to spread the message of drug abuse prevention to all
As UNODC marches ahead to touch many more schools and young lives, a need was felt for:
Greater audio- visual aid to support the communication on drug abuse prevention for students.
Integration of the school drug abuse prevention programme in the school syllabus. With a view to facilitate greater time available for the implementation of the programme and to ensure that all schools are mandated to conduct this pertinent programme.
Work is being carried out to address both these areas in the coming academic session. UNODC is also certain that if concerted efforts by UNODC were to meet commitment similar to the one from the DPS society, many more regions of this country will be able to echo what a teacher rightly said to sum up,
"It is a fantastic project which we teachers and students are involved in. 99.9% of this awareness programme has been beneficial for the whole community. It is tough to make it happen in the beginning but we know, it will happen eventually".