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Express News Service New Delhi, August 9
Teachers clicking wine glasses and falling down like drunkards on a road and to add to the shock, all this in an attempt to prove how bad drug abuse is. But surprisingly, they made their point.
More than 50 teachers from schools in the capital came together to attend the Media Literacy workshop which was organised by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in collaboration with Quest, the school's programme of the Indian Express.
The workshop was an initiative to train them to make their students aware about the harmful affects of drugs and how media messages need to be interpreted correctly to avoid drug abuse. The objective of the seminar was to spread mass-based awareness amongst the youngsters, from class 6 onwards. Schools were chosen as the best medium since they operate in a structured environment.
The UNODC project was started by the New York Times. This was the first such workshop took place in India where the UNODC chose to tie up with the Quest team. Depending upon the success of the project, the UNODC will take the workshop to Chandigarh and Pune.
The media literacy kit, prepared by the Quest team, was given to all teachers so that they can teach the students how to distinguish form reel and real Media portrayals.
When asked to make a presentation on how they will teach their students, they all came up with innovative ideas by impersonating Devdas, Bipasha Basu (Beedi Jalai Le), Shahrukh Khan, DJ Aqil and Sanjay Dutt.
According to the experts, media has created a virtual family for children who spend more than 4-5 hours per day in internet, television, advertisements and radio. "But the problem is that media sends down 'one way traffic', which means that the messages sent down by media are not argued," said Neha Bansal, member of the Quest team who made a presentation on Media Literacy.
The whole agenda was to drive home the message of 'I decide'. "The child should have his own definition of beauty, lifestyle etc and know for himself whether he wants to use drugs or not rather than media dictating terms to him about all these things," she added.
"You cannot regulate the amount of money given to children. Besides, parents are also hard-pressed on time these days. Since, the older lot spend considerable time outside, they spend on frivolous things to get attention," said Urmi Sudhakar, KR Mangalam World School, Vikaspuri.
The experts from UNODC discussed about the harmfull effects of drugs and how things like cough syrup, eraser fluid and petrol are even intoxicating drugs. "Drug abuse is not just an urban phenomenon but is prevalent in rural area as well. It is not only boys but girls as well do drugs," said Prateek Kumar, Program Co-ordinator, UNODC.
The workshop will continue tomorrow with a different group of teachers.
Thirty schools participated in the media literacy workshop organised by UNODC in New Delhi on Thursday.
To stop abuse, families should lead the way: Lewis
Express News Service New Delhi, August 9
Gary Lewis, Representative President, United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC), South Asia, speaks on the drug abuse patterns in India and the role of Delhi schools in combating it.
This is the first of its kind project organised in India. We had been toying with the idea for years. We were also looking for a media counterpart and The Indian Express showed an interest. Besides, we have also got full support from the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.
Do you plan to start such initiatives in other cities as well? The curriculum would be introduced in 50 schools across Delhi. We chose the schools as a medium since they operate in a structured environment. And children at this age are susceptible to risk. Family also plays an important role since they see their parents indulging in alcohol, which serve as a gateway drug. Depending on the success of the programme, it will be replicated in other cities.
As compared to America, how is the situation of drug abuse in India? In America the first use age is earlier than India. According to a UN survey in 2004, the age of first users was 16 years. Reports indicate that now the age has dropped.
Apart from the prevention of drug abuse, is the UN working towards other social issues? Yes, UNODC is not only working towards drugs prevention but also crime prevention in the form of human trafficking, forced labour, cyber-crime and pornography.
Does the corporate sector play a major role in tackling the issue? In US, corporate tackles the issue seriously through Corporate Social Responsibility. While India is a land of 39 millionaires, yet there is not much initiative from the corporate sector. We, in the UN, look for partnerships with private donors.