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Anti-Drug program met obstacles, Bishop John Tong, Catholic Diocese of Hong Kong, did not advocate drug testing in schools

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Anti-Drug program met obstacles, Bishop John Tong, Catholic Diocese of Hong Kong, did not advocate drug testing in schools

source: mingpao

translated by cici@Asianeu

 

John Tong explictly said he would not advocate for school based drug testing program

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Yeung Ming-Jiang said Diocese made no central decision telling schools not to participate in drug testing, but only asked all schools to coordinate with each other

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Chief Executive, Donald Tsang, a Catholic, stressing the fight against drugs to be against the clock, personally administered the entire city to combat drugs abuse problem saying the earliest time to implement school based drug testing is the new school year in Tai Po District. He planned to extend test to all schools in Hong Kong afterward, however, drug test met resistance from Catholic Diocese of Hong Kong, to which Bishop John Tong indicated that he would not advocate schools to participate in drug testing.

 

As Nearly one-fifth of secondary schools in Hong Kong are Catholic schools, John Tong pointed out during a television interview that teachers had been exhausted trying to accomodate continuous new policies introduced by the government. Even with the implementation of school-based drug testing program, students could smoke drugs in their holidays or before they returned to schools, that he did not advocate for Catholic schools to participate in drug testing. Responsible for educational affairs, a vicar, Assistant Professor Yeung Ming-Jiang said the diocese did not make a centralized decision to all secondary schools in Hong Kong to discourage schools from participating in school-based drug testing, instead advising only for overall co-ordination, referring schools had autonomy in deciding whether or not to participate. Yeung criticized the Government for measures to combat drug abuse on campus as too little and too late, in addition to failing to have a full set of follow up interventions, he worried the schools that participated in school-based drug testing would be labeled as "toxic schools". He also described those schools that engaged in drug testing first to be "try first fail first". Yeung also pointed out that schools would independently manage students with drug addiction problems. As to whether allowing the Government to openly check for drug abuse problem, he said was another matter. He bluntly added that if the schools engaging in drug testing were to be negatively labeled, parents of students would resist enrolling their children in the schools, "In current situation, when schools don't have enough student enrollment, schools worry about the possibility of closing down".

 

Donald Tsang announced in mid month on implementing school based drug testing in 23 schools in Tai Po District as of the new semester in September. Valtorta College in The district originally had agreed to participate in drug testing but now claiming to reconsider participation. The school would meet with the Department of Education and the Narcotics Division for discussion before making any decision. Valtorta College principal, Chan Kam-Tim worried the drug testing program would push students away. Chairman of Principals Council of Tai Po District, Kwok Wing-Kueng, believed one school refusal would not affect the program as long as the direction to voluntary drug testing was correct. Kwok found Valtorta College inexplicable change of position to be perplexing since the principal of Valtorta College had been in support during consultation period, and had yet to express concern over drug testing.

 

Members of the Legislative Council, Mrs Regina Ip, said for a large number of schools refusing to participate in drug testing would have an impact on the implementation of anti-drug program. Another Members of the Legislative Council, James To said drug testing needed to be voluntary and Government must not force the schools. If schools had a more optimal solution to combat drugs, schools needed not to participate in school-based drug testing program.

 

In Hong Kong, there are total of 26 secondary schools under jurisdiction of the Catholic Diocese of Hong Kong, and not under direct jurisdiction is a total of 55 secondary schools. Schools with Catholic background is a total of 88 secondary schools, accounting for about nearly one-fifth of 500 secondary schools in Hong Kong. Many Catholic schools are old but prestigious, for example, La Salle College and Maryknoll Convent School (Secondary Section), as well as Caritas belonging to Catholic Diocese of Hong Kong jurisdiction that mainly accepts students with poorer conducts and grades.

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