Over the years, decline in academic performance and class repetition have been cited as indicators of drug abuse among primary school students in Kenya with stakeholders including parents calling for the scaling up of the war on drugs to prevent the future generation from being sucked into the trapping world of drug abuse.
Well their worst fears have been confirmed by a report jointly drafted by the National Authority for the Campaign Against Alcohol and Drug Abuse (NACADA) and the Kenya Institute of Public Policy and Research (KIPPRA) which reveals that primary schools are a hotbed of drug abuse while children as young as 4 years old are being exposed to drugs.
NACADA’s report dubbed Status of Drugs and Substance Abuse among Primary School Pupils in Kenya which sampled responses from 3,307 primary school students from 177 randomly selected primary schools in 25 representative counties across the country reveals worrying details that paint a picture of a young generation that needs to be protected from drug dealers taking advantage of a gullible population to make a killing.
The report shows at least 16.9% of primary school pupils are currently using at least one drug or substance of abuse, 7.2% are currently using prescription drugs and 3.2% are currently using tobacco.
It also reveals that 2.6% of Kenyan pupils are currently using alcohol, 2.3% are currently using miraa/muguka, 1.2% are currently using inhalants and 1.2% are currently using heroin.
What’s more, the report reveals that tobacco 41.9%, prescription drugs 27.8%, alcohol 25.9% and miraa/muguka 23.1% are the drugs and substances of abuse reported to be most readily available to primary school pupils.
“Overall, the survey shows that pupils are fairly knowledgeable on the different drugs and substances of abuse. Tobacco, alcohol and bhang/cannabis were the most widely known drugs with a prevalence of 89.3%, 83.8% and 77.8%, respectively,” reads part of the report.
Further ,when asked if they were aware that their school mates and friends abuse drugs and substances, the interviewees replied in the affirmative saying that their colleagues are currently using tobacco 16.0%, prescription drugs 13.8%, miraa/muguka 10.6% and alcohol 9.6%.
Conversely, it has also been revealed that the pupils use drugs and substances during school holidays 30.0%, on their way home from school 22.0%, during weekends 21.0% and during inter-school competitions 20.0%.
The most commonly mentioned sources of drugs and substances of abuse include kiosks or shops near school 28.6%, bars near school 25.7%, friends 19.3%, bought from other pupils 13.7% and school workers 13.6%.