Written Answers. - Liquor Licensing Laws.

Cecilia Keaveney


535 Cecilia Keaveney asked the Minister for Education and Science the action he has taken in response to recommendations 3 and 4, section B of the commission on liquor licensing interim report on off-licensing; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27919/01]

In the 1980s my Department, in conjunction with the Health Education Bureau and the Mater Dei Counselling Centre, organised annual drug and alcohol education courses for teachers. This provided the impetus for the initial drafting of classroom materials. In 1990 my Department and the Department of Health decided to proceed with further development of materials in conjunction with the Mater Dei counselling centre and with the support of the European Union.

Materials were piloted in eight schools and the feedback was incorporated into the substance abuse prevention programme, On my Own Two Feet, which was introduced into post-primary schools in 1994. A similar programme, Walk Tall, was produced for use at primary level. These programmes have a particular focus on education about the use of alcohol and include substantial associated inservice training for teachers. These substance abuse programmes have been introduced into 95% of primary schools and 75% of post-primary schools. They are now being mainstreamed into social, personal and health education, SPHE. SPHE provides children with unique opportunities to learn about themselves, care for others and make informed decisions about their lives. This is the context in which it is considered that substance misuse is best addressed and not in a stand alone programme.
This approach reflects the WHO European alcohol action plan, 2000-2005 which recommends providing, "all young people with the opportunity to experience skill based learning through an integrated, holistic health education programme with a commitment to a safe and health-enhancing social and physical environment, (and) ensure that school based alcohol education . . . is integrated into the concept of the health promoting school".
This new subject is to be introduced into all primary schools by 2003. At post-primary level all schools are to have the new SPHE junior cycle syllabus in operation by 2003. The majority of schools already provide pupils with one class period per week in SPHE and will continue to do so using the new syllabus. The National Council for Curriculum and Assessment is preparing an SPHE syllabus for use in the senior cycle. The co-operation between my Department and the Department of Health and Children in developing these programmes and subjects and in providing an ongoing support service for them is important. An SPHE support service has been established on a regional basis, based on the health boards, with representatives from both the education and the health sectors.