KL NEWS NETWORK
Minister for School Education, Naeem Akhtar Thursday launched the campaign for ‘Tobacco Free Educational Institutions in J&K’ at Shri Maharaja Ranbir Higher Secondary School (SMRHSS).
Speaking on the occasion, the Minister said teaching fraternity has a key role play in checking fast spreading menace of addiction and drug abuse in the society.
Making his point, the Minister said around the world it has been made mandatory to have statuary warning on cigarette covers and now it has become a part of general wisdom that tobacco is not good for health. “Besides being loaded with many health hazards it burns a hole in the pocket of the person addicted to it,” he said.
He, however, regretted that while awareness has been created about the ill effects of tobacco, but the young minds are still vulnerable not just to smoking but also to other agents of addiction, an official statement said this evening.
“But I think best role in checking this menace can be played by the teachers and educational institutions,” he said.
The campaign has been pioneered by J&K Voluntary Health Association – an NGO working for making the schools free from tobacco by strict implementation of statuary laws prohibiting sale and smoking within 100 yards of educational institutes and other prohibiting provisions. The NGO representatives also gave a power point presentation on the steps to be taken to realize the goal of having Tobacco free schools.
“A teacher has to act as a role model in many ways for the children so is the case for parents. If a teacher or father smokes and he asks his child not to smoke it becomes a very difficult preposition. He loses his moral authority to ask students not to smoke. They have to set examples and standards and lead from the front,” the Minister elaborated.
He cited the example of MK Gandhi, when he took a fortnight to advice a child of his disciple to stop excessive intake of sugar on the latter’s request. “It was because Gandhi ji had to himself give up the same habit first”, he added. “That is the role of the teacher. We have to go with this message to tell the teachers not to smoke. If this pledge goes out from here it will leave greater impact in the society,” he added.
Seeing a greater role for SMRHSS for it being set to emerge as model school, he asked the teachers of the school to set standards for not only the students but for whole society. “They have to prove that they are living up to their claim to make SMRHSS best school in all respects,” he added.
The Minister also recounted the increasing threat of menace of drug abuse among the young generation describing it as the most infectious disease. “You will not know how your child gets caught in this deadly trap because he is open to influences from all sides that are not under your control”. He said it needs a very conscious and deliberate effort from the teaching community to turnaround the situation.
He also dismissed the reasons like unemployment, TV and internet generally cited for youth taking to drugs. “If it has been so then why drug abuse is prevalent in rich countries where there is no problem of unemployment or in rural areas where people have no access to internet and other like modern facilities”, he asserted. He said the problem is more related to human psychology and it needs to be addressed at that level. “Unless it is not addressed at this level, we are trying to only treat the symptoms not the disease,” he added.
He called upon the Chief Education Officers to carry back this message and spread across the length and breadth of the state.
“At administrative level much is being done and people involved in the illegal drug trade are booked under PSA. But that is only one part of it and the other part is that the battle is to be fought in the minds and students and children have to be rescued and brought into the mainstream”, he added.
For this only establishment of de-addiction centers will not do, he said and added “We have to get back to our roots and values, which provided solace, spiritual space to people who lived before us in abject poverty but never found a reason to take to drugs, liquor or smoking”.
He said the key take away from the event is that the teachers, administration and government, side by side education issue, take care of these things. “The goal of attaining quality and high standard of education will be incomplete, if we let our youth to get consumed by drugs and smoking” he added.
Earlier, the Minister conducted surprise inspection of Higher Secondary School and Government Middle School Bari Brahmana. He interacted with the staff and children to assess the quality of education imparted to the pupils.
He also directed the concerned authorities to provide good stuff flooring for pre- nursery classes at the Middle School.