Prague - One way of looking at the results of a recent survey on drug habits among Czech teenagers would be to strip local high schools of their name. It turns out that getting high is far likelier if one attends a vocational school.
Young people who choose apprenticeship training over high school education have a significantly richer experience with narcotic substances, including the hard drugs.
It has transpired from the Czech part of the international study ESPAD, which examines attitudes of 16-year-olds towards drugs.
Whereas at high schools, just one third of the students (33.8 %) have had some experience with illegal drugs, it is almost one half of all A-level secondary schools students (48 %) and 57 per cent of apprentice training centres students (56.9 %).
Nearly the same percentage of apprentices and high schools students smoke marijuana and hashish.
It does not come as a suprise to the experts.
"Low study ambition as well as lower education are seen, drug-wise, as a risk factor. Apprentice training centres then pose higher risk than high schools," explains one of the authors of the study, Ladislav Csémy from the Prague Psychiatric Center.
According to him, it is the comparison of the so called "non-cannabis drugs" among the students that is alarming.
These are, for example, volatile substances, ecstasy, but also heroin and pervitin.
Abusing these non-cannabis drugs "is admitted" by 5.5 per cent of high schools students, whereas among apprentices, it is thrice as much - 15.6 percent.
Less and less apprentices
Lower-level secondary schools are becoming less popular.
Their bad reputation associated with drugs only adds to this trend. This year, approximately 2,000 fewer students were admitted to training colleges. This trend has been obvious since 1989.
According to the Ministry of Education, there are many reasons for the decreasing number of students at vocational schools, or apprentice training centres and drugs are just one of them.
"It creates a negative image mainly in the minds of parents and legitimate representatives of pupils, teachers and also the most of pupils," stated Tereza Brůchová from the Press Department of the Ministry.
According to her, the Ministry offers a range of preventive programs that can help drug abuse prevention.
Nevertheless, the final decision lies in the hands of the management of the apprentice training centres; they will have to decide what is necessary to do to prevent their students from taking drugs and what is not.