Boost sexuality education to further reduce teenage pregnancies

By Leonel Abasola

December 22 2022, 5:59 pm

MANILA -- Senator Sherwin Gatchalian on Thursday highlighted the need to strengthen sexuality education in the K-12 curriculum to sustain the gains of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012, including the drop in teenage pregnancies.

“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 (While we notice a decrease in teenage pregnancies, we must still assess how we teach our female youth to avoid being put in the dire situation of a teenage mother),” Gatchalian said in a statement.

Gatchalian made the statement after 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 lower than the 2022 target of 37 per 1,000 women.

Vergeire bared this 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).

But despite the drop, Gatchalian said the numbers of teenage pregnancy “remain high.”

“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 (It is important to prevent an increase in teenage pregnancies, especially since young mothers usually fail to finish their education and deprives them of a bright future),” the chair of the Senate Committee on Basic Education said.

Gatchalian earlier filed Senate Resolution No.13, which seeks to assess the comprehensiveness and effectiveness of the Department of Education’s (DepEd) current policy on the Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE).

In filing the resolution, Gatchalian noted that adolescent pregnancy is generally not the result of a deliberate choice, but “a consequence of having little or absence of access to school information, or sexual and reproductive health care.”

He said the UNFPA has declared that “there is a long delay in the integration and implementation of the CSE in the K to 12 Curriculum.”

”This delay is a significant missed opportunity to provide young people with non-judgmental and scientifically accurate and age-appropriate sexual and reproductive health information that would curb the knowledge gap and provide life skills needed to make informed decisions related to risk behaviors with consequences to their health,” he said.

Gatchalian said there is an urgent need to review DepEd’s existing CSE policy for the purpose of assessing the comprehensiveness of its scope and the effectiveness of its implementation, not only to prevent the occurrence of teenage pregnancies, but also strengthen the CSE and integrate effective measures in the basic education system. (PNA)