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EDB committed full support for "Trial Scheme on School Drug Testing" (with photos)

     The Secretary for Education, Mr Michael Suen, said today (August 6) that the Government would fully consider opinions of different sectors and take care of the needs of various stakeholders when implementing the "Trial Scheme on School Drug Testing" (trial scheme) in Tai Po.

     Speaking at a briefing session on the trial scheme, Mr Suen said the Government would adhere to four important principles íV "voluntary nature", "confidentiality", "professional handling" and "students' interests" íV in soliciting support from every sector for smooth and effective implementation of the scheme.

     The briefing session was jointly organised by the Narcotics Division of the Security Bureau and the Education Bureau.  The Commissioner for Narcotics, Ms Sally Wong, and Deputy Secretary for Education, Mrs Betty Ip, explained to principals and teachers of secondary schools in the Tai Po district the initial proposal and draft implementation details.  They also took the chance to listen to their views and concerns.

     Mr Suen told attendees that the trial scheme's "voluntary nature" involved two levels.  First, parents who supported the scheme had to sign an agreement for their children to take part in the scheme voluntarily. Meanwhile, students would also be respected in the sense that even if their parents had given consent, the authorities would still respect students' wish if they did not want to participate in the drug testing for various reasons, such as illness.

     "We understand that students have every right to enjoy confidential treatment of their particulars and we will respect and protect students' privacy.  Any drug testing results will be safeguarded under the principle of confidentiality and the relevant authorities will only offer the information to people on a need-to-know basis and will not let others obtain such information," Mr Suen said.

     Mr Suen stressed that the trial scheme would be implemented by professionals.  He said, "All participating principals, teachers, social workers and police officers are professionals and knowledgeable.  We will invite professionals from different sectors to participate in the scheme, such as providing counseling to help students who have gone astray to stay away from drugs."

     Mr Suen added that "students' interests" was an important principle underlying the trial scheme.  He said, "Young people's life should not be tainted by an occasional mistake and we should try our very best to help them lead a new life.  The current proposal is an initial one and some problems remain unsolved for the time being.  I hope that everybody can freely express their views and opinions on the implementation details of the trial scheme today."

     Mr Suen also took the chance to express gratitude to principals and teachers of the schools in Tai Po, as well as colleagues in the Narcotics Division and the Home Affairs Bureau for their efforts and preparation work over the past few months.

     He said, "We hope that there will be fruitful discussions today and schools in Tai Po will make good use of the summer holidays to get prepared for the trial scheme.  We will build on the success of the trial scheme and make improvements after its implementation."

     "We will consider implementing the scheme in other districts after the trial scheme has gained ground," he added.

Ends/Thursday, August 6, 2009
Issued at HKT 20:06


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