Drug use among school going children has reached epidemic proportions. This is according to Mewa Health and Harm Reduction Program officer Hussein Abdalla Tahib
According to Tahib, students have devised sophisticated ways of smuggling drugs to schools.
He revealed that children as young as nine years are smoking bhang and chew ‘muguka’.
“Many children are consuming bhang and ‘Muguka’ which is being used at very high rate. We have those taking heroine and some are injecting themselves but they are few.
Tahib said Mewa has been getting a high number of referrals from learning institutions.
“Secondary, primary and tertiary institutions bring their students to us. Unlike before there is growing understanding within school heads and students are not suspended out of school. We take some through a minimum of four weeks counseling sessions. But the challenge is with the minors who cannot be admitted in rehabilitation centres because of their age. We give them psycho-social support,” said Tahib
He said that the urine toxicology tests conducted to many students to ascertain types of drugs they consume revealed that some are using additional stuffs.
“At times we receive children whom are believed to be using tobacco but we end up getting traces of marijuana or prescribed medicines,” he said.
According to him drugs are readily available in the streets at a cheap price the reasons why many children are falling prey.
“Sensitization and awareness programs should be up scaled to the highest levels in schools to include even the subordinate staffs. Anti-drug clubs should be formed,” he said.
He attributed close partnership with law enforcers to proper handling of cases of drug abuse among children.
Kilifi County Director of Education Samuel Boto said the drug menace is there but in some few schools.
“There are cases of students using drugs .Extreme cases are referred for counseling outside the school and then they are re-admitted. We don’t dismiss them out of school,” said Boto
Students become rude
A member of community who did not want to be mentioned because of security reasons said pupils at a primary school in the outskirts of Kilifi town smoke bhang.
“Last year the situation was bad at the school. The boys were rude and arrogant and at some point they snubbed the head teacher after he called them for guiding and counseling. They asked him to keep off their affairs and told him that it was none of his business if they become drug addicts as long as they do it outside the school compound,” said the source.
The source said school children get access to drugs since those selling drugs are in the villages.
“The drug peddlers are within us and are known even to our security agents. But the challenge is the community’s cry is always falling on deaf ears. We complain about the suspects but what follows is they will disappear for some time only to resurface later. Someone is informing them,” said the source.
Kilifi County Executive committee member for Education and ICT Professor Gabriel Katana said drug use in Secondary schools indicates that there are loose controls.
He said schools with both boarding and day facilities are the most affected.
“Day scholars have an opportunity to interact with any environment and this makes them easy to sneak the drugs in school. It becomes a challenge when there are no internal controls,” said Prof Katana.
He added: The issues of drugs in schools should be treated with the same level we treat matters of security. It should not be a onetime checking because drug peddlers have found learning institutions as potential grounds to do business.
Last year Kilifi mums a local women group went to the street to demand the County Government to ban sale of ‘muguka’.
The group’s chair lady Kibibi Ali said school going children were the main consumers. In Kilifi ‘Muguka’ is sold as cheap as shs20.
According to Kibibi young school boys buy ‘muguka’ even during break time. Despite their plea the sale on Muguka is still going on.
During the just concluded Kilifi County Dialogue conference Religious leaders raised concerns over high number of youths engaging in drugs and called for the police bosses to intervene.
“We are disturbed with the rate at which we are losing our productive youth into drugs, mostly ‘unga’(heroine) and muguka. The addiction has rendered them unproductive and always begging for coins to quench their thirst making them vulnerable to manipulations,” said Rajab Tayari from the Council of Imams and Preachers’ of Kenya (CIPK)