Counseling given before expulsion for substance abusers: Education Minister

During the NA’s question hour yesterday the government was asked about what happens to students who are terminated from school for using controlled substances.

“They might be given warning before termination, however, terminating students who simply try smoking or try marijuana might be a waste of their education,” said Nyisho Sephu Constituency MP, Kuenga.

He also said that such situation does exist in every school in the country, especially schools in urban areas and if terminated for those reasons, then there are high chances for a school to become empty.

“So is there a possibility to stop a student from being terminated? Is there any strategy to stop such usage by students? Is there a policy to change the mindset of the student or if they can have a policy to transfer the student to better schools to change themselves?” asked MP Kuenga.

Education minister Norbu Wangchuk said that in this kind of situation the most regretful people are teachers and principals to see their student getting into such practices in front of them.

“In 2016 alone, we have come across 4,668 students who were involved in abusing controlled substances, which includes marijuana, smoking and sniffing,” the minister said. “Of 4,668 students, 4,010 students are from schools within Thimphu.”

Lyonpo said that looking at the numbers it is shocking at times, however, these students are in their growing stage and therefore vulnerable to any kind of situation and they get into such things to experiment.

There is a lot that can be done to bring them back on track and to give them counseling. “But the ministry alone cannot bring positive changes with help from individual parents and teachers,” he said.

On the highest involvement being students in Thimphu the minister said that a study indicated that maximum students get involved in such practice on their way home after school and few at home.

The minister said that such practices in other dzongkhags are rare. Principals are frequently asked for a report on students involved in such practices and in most schools it is zero.

The minister also said that they have been hearing from central schools that transferred students, who were involved in such practices before are now clean with guidance from teachers, principals and councilors.

The minister said in every school a discipline policy is in use and if a student is caught for the first time he or she is given counseling in school. On the second time parents are called and counseling given to both parents and students.

On the third time a warning is given to parents and the student. If a student is caught again, then school authorities get into thorough discussion on whether the student needs to be sent to a rehabilitation centre in case other students are influenced.

But some students are suspended and some terminated. “There are only two to three cases where the student is terminated from such act,” the minister said “Our main aim is to change the mentality of the student. If a student comes out to be one with such practice, then it can be a failure from school’s side and if a student is terminated due to the failure from school’s side, then that is wrong.”

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