While Republic Act 10354 or the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012 (RPRH Law) mandates age and development-appropriate reproductive health education, a March study by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) reveals the lack of adequate materials and accessible teacher trainings for its effective implementation. For Senator Win Gatchalian, this should prompt the Department of Education (DepEd) to urgently address these gaps, especially as the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic threatens to increase the number of teenage mothers nationwide.
In a recent news report, the Commission on Population and Development (POPCOM) revealed the 46.43 percent spike in the number of teenage pregnancies in the Cordilleras, warning that lockdown measures could exacerbate the surge of teenage pregnancy in the country. In 2020, there were 2,422 babies born to teenage parents in the Cordilleras from 1,654 in 2019. On a national scale, pregnancies among minors aged 15 and below was up by 7 percent in 2019 compared to the previous year, based on data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).
DepEd had issued DO 31 s. 2018 to guide the delivery of comprehensive sexuality education (CSE). The PIDS study pointed out, however, that when it comes to RPRH education, “there is an apparent lack of qualified manpower, facilities, trainings, instructional materials, coordination, and monitoring system.”
“Lalo nating dapat paigtingin ang pagtugon sa mga kakulangang ito, lalo na’t ang pagdami ng mga batang ina ay isa sa mga nakita nating epekto ng pandemya,” Gatchalian said.
The PIDS’ focus group discussions (FGD) with teachers of different subject groups revealed that trainings on CSE curriculum integration were so far inadequate and inaccessible. While most of the provisions of the law have been complied with, there is still a need for strengthened programs to realize the goals of the RPRH Law, the state think tank added.
“Bagama’t ilang taon na ang lumipas simula nang magkaroon tayo ng batas sa Reproductive Health Law at magkaroon ng polisiya ang DepEd sa usapin ng CSE, may mga kakulangan pa rin tayong nakikita tulad ng sapat na teacher trainings at learning materials upang maging mas mabisa ang pagtuturo ng Comprehensive Sexual Education sa ating mga paaralan,” said the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture.