Senator Win Gatchalian is pressing the need to strengthen sexuality education to sustain the gains of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012 or RH law, including the drop in teenage pregnancies.
In a forum organized by the Philippine Legislators’ Committee on Population and Development (PLCPD), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), and the Commission on Population and Development (POPCOM), Department of Health (DOH) officer-in-charge Maria Rosario Vergeire reported that the adolescent birth rate in the country is now at 25 per 1,000 women, which is already beyond the 2022 target of 37 per 1,000 women. The DOH official pointed out, however, that the number of teenage pregnancies remains high.
The UNFPA has flagged that adolescents that began childbearing before the age of 18 are less likely to complete their education. For Gatchalian, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Basic Education, this adds urgency for the government to assess if it is effectively implementing sexuality education in K to 12 schools.
Earlier this year, the senator filed Proposed Senate Resolution No.13, which seeks to assess the comprehensiveness and effectiveness of the Department of Education’s (DepEd) current policy on Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE).
Despite the issuance of Department Order (D.O.) No. 31 s. 2018 to guide the DepEd’s implementation of CSE, the UNFPA said that there is a long delay in its integration in the K to 12 curriculum. A March 2021 discussion paper by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) also revealed gaps in the implementation of RH education, including the lack of qualified manpower and sufficient facilities, training, and instructional materials, among others.
“Bagama’t may nakikita tayong pagbaba sa bilang ng mga maagang pagbubuntis, kailangang masuri pa rin natin kung paano natin tinuturuan ang ating mga kabataang kababaihan na iwasang malagay sa sitwasyon ng pagiging mga batang ina,” said Gatchalian.
“Mahalagang mapigilan natin ang paglobo ng mga bilang ng maagang pagbubuntis sa mga kabataan, lalo na’t ang mga batang ina ay madalas hindi nakakatapos ng kanilang edukasyon at napagkakaitan ng magandang kinabukasan,” the lawmaker concluded.