UNODC utilizes strong protective power of families in preventing drug use

On 4 December, 2017, the UNODC Regional Office for Central Asia, in close cooperation with the Ministry of Public Education of the Republic of Uzbekistan organized a National Round Table event.

Representatives of the Ministry of Public Education and its reporting organizations, the Ministry of Public Health, Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Youth Union of Uzbekistan, UN agencies, the World Bank Group, teachers, psychologists, parents and children, and the mass media gathered around the table in order to discuss the results of the implementation of the "Families and Schools Together" (FAST) Programme in the regions of the Republic of Uzbekistan and the possible ways of scaling up of the "Strengthening Families Programme for youth aged 10-14" (SFP 10-14).

In his welcoming speech, Mr. Alisher Sadullaev, Deputy Minister of Public Education, highlighted UNODC's activities which were in full compliance with the goals and objectives of the "National Concept on partnership between family, mahalla (community) and educational institutions in raising a harmoniously developed generation".

Ms. Ashita Mittal, the UNODC Regional Representative for Central Asia, in her opening remarks, emphasized the significance of the work with children and youth as they are the wealth of a nation. She stressed that UNODC is ready to collaborate with its Uzbek partners in promoting healthy life styles and improving resilience of children. Ms. Mittal noted that "the essence of the work is to build effective communication between teachers, parents, children, and the community. Both the "Families and Schools Together" and "Strengthening Families Programme" are of such examples of evidence based and ready to scale up initiatives."- she added.

The evaluation of the SFP 10-14 Programme was at the centre of the discussion. The evaluation results demonstrated statistically significant changes and positive outcomes for children and families, including enhanced family functioning, preventing school failure, reduced stress from daily life and reduced substance abuse by the family. The evaluation also showed that the programme reached its main goals: youth has gained a healthy future orientation and an increased appreciation of their parents/caregivers, and acquired the necessary skills for dealing with stress and peer pressure.

The "National round table allows us to look at the evidence that we have gained during the implementation of the programme. Any programme needs to prove to be effective and display the  changes which have become the results of the implementation. We started with six schools and today we have 800 trainers around Uzbekistan."- highlighted Ms. Mittal.

Mr. Akbar Tagaev, national focal point of the project from the Ministry of Public Education, mentioned that the Ministry will continue its support in piloting of the family skills training programmes in Uzbekistan.

Families from piloted schools who participated in SFP 10-14 in 2017 also attended the round table, sharing their feedback on the programme implementation by emphasizing how their experience with the programme resulted in positive changes which have carried over to their families and children after their participation in SFP 10-14. Parents and children prepared a live performance for the event and made the meeting entertaining and enjoyable.

"This programme taught us a lot of useful family skills. We discovered hidden potential of our children and ourselves. After the completion of 7 sessions of the programme, I learnt that I used to be a very strict parent, and I realized that my daughter has already grown-up , becoming a person on whom I can lean on. Now we practice the "love and limits" approach in our family," - noted Ms. Dilnoza Alieva, a mother of a sixth-grader at one of the pilot schools.

The "Strengthening Families Programme" is a part of the UNODC global project on "Prevention of drug use, HIV/AIDS and crime among young people through family skills training programmes in low- and middle-income countries".