Aside from sustaining the effort to curb teenage pregnancy through effective reproductive health education, Senator Win Gatchalian pressed that it is equally important for the government to support the reintegration of adolescent mothers to the education system.
Gatchalian made this call amidst the celebration of the National Women’s Month this March. He emphasized the need to support adolescent mothers since they tend to drop or discontinue their education after giving birth. Gatchalian cited the role of the Alternative Learning System (ALS) to continue the provision of learning opportunities to adolescent mothers.
Under the Alternative Learning System Act (Republic Act No. 11510), which Gatchalian authored and sponsored, the ALS was institutionalized and strengthened to provide increased opportunities for out-of-school children in special cases and adult learners, including indigenous peoples, to develop basic and functional literacy and life skills and pursue an equivalent pathway to complete basic education.
According to the 2021 Young Adult Fertility and Sexuality Study (YAFS5) by the University of the Philippines Population Institute (UPPI), there has been a dramatic decline in the number of female youths aged 15 to 19 who have ever been pregnant. From 14.4% in 2013, the percentage of female youth aged 15 to 19 who have ever been pregnant in 2021 was 7.2%
The Commission on Population and Development (POPCOM), however, remains concerned that pregnancies among adolescents aged 10 to 14 remain high. In 2021, 2,299 young Filipinas aged 10 to 14 gave birth, just slightly lower than the 2,534 from the same age group who gave birth in 2020.
Under the 2023 national budget, P10 million is allocated for the social protection program for adolescent mothers and their children. The program will include strategies and interventions developed by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), the POPCOM, and other relevant agencies.
“Isa sa mga epekto ng maagang pagbubuntis sa mga batang kababaihan ang pagtigil nila sa pag-aaral at ang kawalan ng oportunidad na magkaroon ng maayos na hanapbuhay. Habang patuloy nating sinusugpo ang maagang pagbubuntis, mahalagang itaguyod din natin ang kapakanan ng mga batang ina upang mabigyan sila ng pangalawang pagkakataong magkaroon ng magandang kinabukasan,” said Gatchalian, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Basic Education.