The Ministry of Education has issued a tender to have drug-sniffing dogs used at government high schools.
On Tuesday, the ministry posted a request for proposals for quotations from what it called “suitable organisations” to deliver and manage canine drug-detection services within Grand Cayman’s government high schools.
The RFP is to provide the service from Jan. 2020 to Dec. 2021. The deadline for submissions is 4 Dec.
The education ministry, responding to queries from the Cayman Compass on the RFP, said it was part of the K-9 drug-detection and deterrent initiative introduced as a pilot programme in September 2011.
“The Ministry of Education holds the view that the K-9 unit maintains a visible deterrent against drug use and distribution within government high schools on Grand Cayman and actively contributes to the detection of drugs and the conviction of those that are in possession of narcotics within our schools,” it said.
The K-9 drug-detection and deterrent programme, the ministry said, was in response to rising concerns at the time, in 2011, relating to gang and drug activities within the community, the ministry said.
“The initiative was fully implemented in September 2012 as part of the Cayman Islands Strategic Plan – Strategic Goal 4 – ‘Build Safer School Communities and Promote Inclusion’. At that time, the contract was awarded to Cayman Protective Services, which have successfully maintained the programme through a bidding process in a tender,” the ministry told the Compass.
The ministry explained that the K-9 unit is generally deployed for eight hours per day across Clifton Hunter High School, John Gray High School and the Cayman Islands Further Education Centre.
“There are generally between 15-20 days of deployment across the three high schools per month,” it added.
Drugs in schools
The issue of drug use among local students is not a new one.
The National Drug Council has consistently investigated the issue through its Cayman Islands Student Drug Survey.
In its 2018 survey, the NDC found that more than half of students in Years 9-12, usually aged between 14 and 17, believed that drugs, such as alcohol, marijuana, cigarettes, were in their schools.
According to the survey statistics, 60.5% of the Year 9-12 students and 49.2% of students in Years 7 and 8, usually aged 12 and 13, believed there were drugs at their schools.
A total of 84.2% of students in Years 9-12 and 71.5% of students in Years 7 and 8 believed students were trying drugs at their school.
While this showed the perception of students, 23.1% of Years 9-12 students and 11.5% of Years 7 and 8, said they had actually seen a student selling or giving drugs at school.
The data for those who had seen a student selling or giving drugs in the area surrounding their school is relatively similar, with 23.8% of Years 9-12 students and 12.4% of Years 7 and 8 saying they have witnessed this.
When it comes drug usage at the school, the numbers spike.
Roughly 34.9% of Years 9-12 students said they have seen a student using drugs at school, while 24.5% of Years 7 and 8 students admitted to witnessing drug use at school.
As for those who have seen a student using drugs in the area surrounding their school, 35.3% of Years 9-12 students and 21.9% of Years 7 and 8 students surveyed said they had.
Student drug use
The survey also looked at student drug use.
According to the data, 22% of the Year 9-12 students and 2.7% of Years 7 and 8 surveyed have admitted using marijuana in their lifetime.
When it comes to alcohol, 54.5% of Year 9-12 students and 28.1% of Years 7 and 8 said they had consumed it.
Cayman Islands Student Drug Survey 2018 data
Do you believe that there are drugs (alcohol, marijuana, cigarettes, etc.) at your school?
Years 7 and 8 (freq. (%))
YES 592 (49.2%) 282 (48.0%) 298 (50.3%)
NO 573 (47.3%) 284 (48.0%) 278 (46.9%)
Year 9 to Year 12
YES 1,251 (60.5%) 579 (58.3%) 644 (63.1%)
NO 775 (37.5%) 386 (38.9%) 366 (35.8%)
Have you personally seen a student selling or giving drugs at school?
Year 7 and 8
YES 138 (11.5%) 73(12.4%) 56(9.4%)
NO 1,040 (86.5%) 498 (84.8%) 528 (89.0%)
Year 9 to Year 12
YES 477 (23.1%) 232 (23.4%) 235 (23.0%)
NO 1,558 (75.4%) 744 (74.9%) 775 (75.9%)