Regional Programme for Afghanistan and Neighbouring Countries

The Second Expert Group Meeting (EGM) on “Preventing Drug Abuse in Educational Settings"

20 September 2021 - The UNODC Regional Programme for Afghanistan and Neighbouring Countries (Regional Programme) conducted the second Expert Group Meeting (EGM) on the Prevention of Drug Abuse in Educational Settings online and within the framework of Sub-Programme 3, ​​“Prevention and Treatment of Drug Dependence Among Vulnerable Groups”.

The meeting, with the participation of 38 experts and senior officials, supported the exchange of experiences and good practices among Regional Programme countries in shaping responses to the challenge of drug abuse as well as enhancing national efforts and regional and international cooperation to prevent drug abuse in educational settings, based on balanced and comprehensive approaches.

“This meeting is more than timely in view of the pandemic, as Covid-19 itself has directly affected people, teachers, schools and students, families and youth. Also, social policies associated with Covid-19 including school closure and distance learning as well as the stress that had not been felt before by parents, teachers and students, have been all programmatically influential in terms of us thinking forward”. highlighted Wadih Maalouf, Coordinator Global Programme on Prevention; UNODC headquarters; Prevention, Treatment and Rehabilitation Section (PTRS). 

Brigadier Ammar Ali, Force Commander, Regional directorate, Anti-Narcotics Force North from the I.R. of Pakistan emphasized the vital role of ‘concerted efforts’ in safeguarding youth and education institutions.

During the meeting, senior experts and policymakers from six Regional Programme countries shared their best practices and lessons learned on drug prevention in educational institutions to promote positive mental health and prevent self-harm and other risk behaviours during the difficult days of the pandemic.

The meeting was enriched by the discussions delivered by four international experts and consultants, including Wadih Maalouf, Coordinator Global Programme on Prevention UNODC headquarters (PTRS); Karin Haar, UNODC consulting expert on Family Skills Initiative; Ziad El-Khatib, Assoc. Prof., Global Health, Karolinska Institute and UNODC consulting expert; Ali Yassine, UNV Public Health Specialist with UNODC. 

The panellists discussed the effectiveness of social and emotional education programmes across several domains and the relevance of these within educational settings as well as the UNODC-WHO International Standards on drug use prevention and evidence-based interventions and policies in the educational system. Moreover, they provided an overview of the development of new UNODC tools guiding law enforcement officers to improve the effectiveness of drug prevention activities in the educational sector.

The meeting was considered a successful one by participants and there was strong support to continue the regular exchange of experience on prevention of drug abuse among youth in education settings through the Regional Programme platform.

The Regional Programme conveyed the first high-level EGM on "Prevention Drug Abuse in Educational Settings in Feb 2019 and in response to Resolution 61/2 " strengthening efforts to prevent drug abuse in educational settings" adopted during the sixty-first session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs in March 2018 and following a request from the Government of Pakistan.

Special thanks to the European Union and Finland for supporting this event.