A 2014 report of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Regional Office in Region 12 shed light on the web of troubles that trap most out-of-school youth, characterized by high incidence of substance abuse, involvement in fights, dealing drugs and committing crime to obtain drugs. To address this alarming concern, the Lingap sa Kabataang Ayaw sa Droga (LIKAY Droga) was launched as the collective action of the city government, Department of Education, law enforcement agencies, communities, and the private sector to focus its campaign against illegal drugs. Particularly targeting the out-of-school youth enrolled under the DepEd’s Alternative Learning System (ALS), the program aims to intensify the anti-drugs campaign and information drive in the city through social mobilization of community-based volunteers.
As an initial step, a LIKAY Droga module was produced, involving at least 100 mobile teachers (ALS implementers), district ALS coordinators, instructional managers and members of the academy. It provided a holistic approach in the development of attitudes, skills and values that will guide out-of-school youth to protect themselves and others in a wide range of risk situations related to drugs. These include skills for increasing self-esteem, coping with anxiety, resisting pressures, communicating effectively, making decisions, managing conflict and dealing assertively with social situations in which drugs are offered.
The DepEd for its part, made sure that the LIKAY Droga modules are integrated in the regular ALS sessions. School personnel also receive training in the recognition of risk factors for substance use and related disorders so that they are able to guide other members of the teaching staff, parents and families, and other community members who are involved and concerned in program implementation.
Using the modules, the program was cascaded to the different puroks through the Purok Laban sa Krimen (PLK) as the city’s support on the current administration’s anti-drugs campaign. This parallel strategy aims to sustain the gains of LIKAY Droga and oversee that the life-skills integration to ALS sessions were properly implemented. Crafting and reproduction of PLK primer in Filipino was conducted to ensure better appreciation and understanding of the program by the city’s constituents.
Life skills training such as malong weaving, stuff toy making, massage, among others were likewise provided under the Youth and Adult Income Generating (YAIG) initiative of the program. Other national agencies were mobilized, such as the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) to provide scholarships for ALS students, prioritizing youth involved in the drug trade who surrendered to the police, in support of LIKAY Droga. As a result, 873 ALS learners are engaged in entrepreneurial activities while 374 ALS completers are employed after completing the program.
This collaborative approach reinforces desired values and consistent behaviors at school, in the home and in the community. Indeed, schools as institutions for people in their formative years are strategic settings for advancing anti-substance abuse programs, practices and community links. A sense of belonging to family, community and school are major protective factors against risky behaviors in young people. The city was successful in capitalizing on the value of schools to serve as a focal point and critical partner for such a community-wide effort
Through the LIKAY Droga Program, the city government and the community was able to send a clear and consistent message by developing and implementing a broad, comprehensive approach to dealing with substance abuse among the youth.