New programme to address underage drinking

PILOT LAUNCH: Education MEC Fundile Gade, second from left, Aware.org CEO Ingrid Louw, third from left, with MEC of finance and economic development Mlungisi Mvoko, fourth from left, posing at the launch of the ‘It Starts Today’ programme
Picture: DESMOND COETZEE

A new programme aimed at addressing the high rate of alcohol abuse among the youth was launched at the Steve Biko Centre in Ginsberg last week.

Called “It Starts Today”, the pilot programme was is a pilot launched by the Association for Alcohol Responsibility and Education (Aware.org) in partnership with the provincial education department and Eastern Cape Liquor Board.

BCM head of special programmes Councillor Xolani Witbooi, is the head of special programmes at BCM and said alcohol abuse was rife in the metro.

Aware.org CEO Ingrid Louw said many South African children began drinking at are drinking a young age.

She said the and the country also had the unenviable position of being the sixth largest consumer of alcohol in the world.

“The liquor industry is seriously concerned by the stats, which shows that our young people are in fact drinking from as young as 10 years of age,” Louw said.

“We believe in building strong partnerships so that we drive social change for an alcohol harm-free South Africa in a collaborative way.

“The problem facing these communities is massive, complex and multifaceted which we can’t address on our own,” Louw said.

Finance and Economic development MEC Mlungisi Mvoko said he hoped would love to see the programme focusing on those the youth outside the schooling system as well.

Mvoko said a breakdown in responsible parenting in South African communities had resulted in a situation where many children were left idle and able to could go anywhere, any time.

“I think as parents we must take responsibility because if your kids are not at home at eight o clock, do you know where they are?

“As a society let us dig deep down and ask ourselves what actually contributes to this abuse of alcohol,” Mvoko said.

“Usage of alcohol is not the challenge but rather the abuse of alcohol and excessive drinking.”

Education MEC Fundile Gade said alcohol abuse formed part of the many social ills that affected were are an impairment to learners pupils, which prevented them from achieving at school and completing their studies.

“We believe that this programme will cap the learner dropout rate and ensure that our learners complete their studies from grade R through to grade 12,” Gade said.

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