ISLAMABAD: Educational institutions in the capital are shocked by an NGO report that claims that 53pc of students at elite private schools are drug “addicts”, based on the findings of a survey of 44 institutions.

The Federal Directorate of Education (FDE), which looks after the affairs of public sector schools, is also unaware of how and when the surveys of public schools were conducted.

The findings of a secret report were shared with the Senate Standing Committee on Interior and Narcotics Control on Wednesday by Dr Maria Sultan, the director general of the South Asia Strategic Stability Institute (SASSI).

It claimed that 44 to 53pc of students at elite private schools use drugs.

“We conducted a survey of 44 educational institutions, including some public sector schools. Alarmingly, we found 43 to 53pc of students at elite schools – where students from privileged backgrounds are studying – were addicts. They are using heroin, hashish, opium and ecstasy tablets,” Ms Sultan said.

‘Secret report’ claims 44 to 53pc of students at elite private schools are ‘drug addicts’

When asked about public sector schools, she said 7 to 8pc of students over the age of 16 at model colleges were “addicts”, while only 1 to 2pc of students at public sector schools were addicts.

Ms Sultan said the organisation kept the survey secret and approached most students outside their institutions, when asked why educational institutions and their main departments were not taken on board and when the research was carried out.

She also refused to share the report with the media, in order to protect the identities of students and institutions.

“We are ready to share findings, as we did in the standing committee,” she said, adding that enemies of Pakistan were targeting the youth and students by providing drugs at their educational institutions.

Ms Sultan called for comprehensive legislation to counter drug suppliers.

“I’m shocked to learn what the NGO is claiming. We do not even allow cigarettes in our institutions – we don’t know when the survey was conducted or why teachers and principals were kept away,” said Model Colleges director Dr Tariq Masood.

The president of the Private School Association Zofran Elhai, who represents elite private schools in the city, claimed there was no trend of smoking in private schools. “It’s hard to believe that our students are addicts,” he said.

On Wednesday, after expressing concerns about drug addiction in Pakistan and in educational institutions in general, the Senate panel proposed that educational institutions be asked to conduct medical tests of their students.

During a Wednesday meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Interior and Narcotics Control, committee chair Senator Abdul Rehman Malik said it should be mandatory for every public and private school, college and university to hold drug tests of students at least twice a year.

The committee said schools and universities should take strict measures to keep a check on drug related activities on campuses, and should be made responsible for reporting to the Anti Narcotics Force.

Mr Malik said an institution that fails to maintain a drug-free environment should be faced with a heavy fine and punishment. He also expressed concerns about drug supply at reputable institutions in the city.

Published in Dawn October 22nd, 2016