GRASS-ROOTS DRUG EDUCATION IN
The South African province of KwaZulu-Natal is a primary producer and exporter of cannabis, known there as “dagga”–gateway to more deadly drugs.
An estimated 40 percent of students in KwaZulu-Natal schools now smoke dagga, prompting the authorities to stage police raids on schools throughout the province with pat-down searches of young students. Police routinely seize stashes of drugs.
Truth About Drugs campaign volunteers have tackled this crisis head-on. After personally conducting drug prevention lectures in many schools, one classroom at a time, the coordinator of the KwaZulu-Natal chapter of Drug-Free World Foundation calculated that it would require years to make significant impact. Using Truth About Drugs materials, he therefore presented a three-hour seminar to educators, school administrators and volunteers to train them in the drug education program. He thus created the first team to undergo instruction on how to implement the curriculum and train other teachers to do the same.
Among the first to export the program was the principal of a primary school who not only trained his teachers on the Truth About Drugs program but established a training environment for teachers from neighboring schools. The results created a strong impact throughout the region, drawing more educators and volunteers to the program. A former drug dealer was among those who applied for and completed the training. Since graduating, he has given drug awareness lessons to 1,000 Zulu-speaking teenagers at a secondary school.
In this way, the Truth About Drugs program has spread from classroom to classroom and school to school, with 370 teachers trained and some 30,000 students educated in the region.
The rapid spread and measurable results of the program came to the attention of the Provincial Commissioner of the Department of Police Training of KwaZulu-Natal. He then adopted the program and established the Truth About Drugs as a core component of the police training curriculum.