In schools between January and May this year, Fiji’s Substance Abuse Advisory Council (SAAC) recorded a total of 32 drug-related cases.
Of these cases, 12 were related to marijuana, two were related to methamphetamine, eight were related to suki, eight were related to cigarettes, one involved glue, and one involved alcohol.
Police records between January and April this year reported 12 juveniles among 380 individuals apprehended in 384 cases of illicit drugs including cocaine.
“The data presented is sending us a message to be proactive in working towards practical solutions to the drug challenges facing our young people in Fiji,” Assistant Minister for Education Iliesa Vanawalu said whilst addressing students during the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking (IDADAIT) program today at Nasinu Secondary School, which was postponed from its usual date of June 26 due to mid-year exams.
The SAAC, established within the Ministry of Education, reported a total of 2,932 drug-related cases in schools in 2022.
Aside from the IDADAIT programme, the ministry also collaborates with various government departments and education partners, such as the Ministry of Social Welfare, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Home Affairs, Fiji Narcotics Bureau, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), and UNICEF, to educate students about the dangers of drugs.
To support students, the ministry has set up counseling hubs in different education divisions – Natabua High in the West, Labasa College in the North, Levuka Public in the easter division and Nasinu Secondary in the central division – and increased the number of teacher counselors in schools. Class teachers have also undergone training as child protection officers, focusing on drug policy and basic counseling skills.
The ministry is currently working on professional development and training for teachers in counseling policy, as well as providing parenting skill training for community leaders on drug policy. Drug awareness materials such as posters and brochures have been provided to raise awareness in the community.