by Dr Susan Mathew
MUMBAI, FEB 2, 2016: As a culmination of a year-long training programme for school teachers in identification and prevention of substance among school children in ten Indian cities, the Don Bosco Research Centre (DBRC) organised a dissemination programme at the Don Bosco Provincial House, Matunga on January 29.
School principals, vice principals and coordinators from across the city participated in the seminar. Father Ajoy Fernandes, Director, Don Bosco Research Centre welcomed the gathering. A teacher training manual entitled 'Preventing substance abuse among school children' was released by Father Godfrey D' souza, Provincial of the Salesian province of Mumbai.
Father D'souza spoke about the vision and mission of Don Bosco and urged the teaching fraternity to emulate Don Bosco's philosophy of `reason, religion and loving kindness' in mentoring young lives, rather than resorting to repressive methods of education. This was followed by an introductory session by Dr Sunita Shanbhag, which set the context for the programme.
Dakshayani Madangopal, CEO of DBRC, provided an overview of the major outcomes, learning experiences and specific observations in the ten cities where the workshops were conducted. She highlighted why teachers were chosen, when, where and how they could play their roles, how to present prevention messages in schools and the importance of building up resistance-skills in school children to encourage them to say 'No' to drugs.
Dr Anne Fernandes, principal, Sree Narayana Guru B.Ed College, Chembur, inspired the audience with a testimony on how she had taken forward the campaign against substance abuse in her own college, after the teacher training programme last year. Teachers needed to become sensitive to the problem and work out preventive measures before the damage was done.
Group work was organised among the participants, facilitated by Father Fernandes and Hemalatha Anilkumar, a consultant at the Research Centre. Teachers were asked to chalk out an action plan as part of the campaign against substance abuse in their schools. This action plan was along certain themes such as school-level interventions, making use of existing support systems and creating new ones, strategies to involve the parents and how to leverage peer influence.
Suggestions included workshops for parents and students, display of banners, camps for awareness, medical checkups for students, sessions during value education class and PTA meetings, presentations during Annual Day, a ban on vendors outside schools, referring of children to school counsellors, screening of films, skits, availing help of the anti-narcotic cell and talks by alumni to inspire the children. Other suggestions included being good listeners, building good rapport, activities to engage children in a creative and innovative manner, visiting homes, introducing teacher-parent clubs and conducting small-scale research involving parents.