DepEd to revisit comprehensive sex education to curb teen pregnancy

By Wilnard Bacelonia

February 14, 2024, 2:20 pm

<p>High school students of Jose P. Laurel Sr. High School in Project 4, Quezon City <em>(PNA photo by Robert Oswald P. Alfiler)</em></p>

High school students of Jose P. Laurel Sr. High School in Project 4, Quezon City (PNA photo by Robert Oswald P. Alfiler)

MANILA – The Department of Education (DepEd) has committed to revisit and intensify its comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) in a bid to address the high teenage pregnancy cases among basic education learners.

DepEd Assistant Secretary Alma Ruby Torio said the CSE is integrated in various learning areas such as values education, good manners and right conduct, health and technology and livelihood.

"For now, we have flexible options for our learners. One of which is the provision of alternative learning delivery mode as well as the appropriate learning delivery for those learners who are in special circumstances," Torio told senators during the Committee on Basic Education public hearing.

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, who chairs the panel, cited results of the National Demographic and Health Survey of the Philippine Statistics Authority, showing that 8.6 percent of 15-19 year-old girls or 1 out of 10 got pregnant in 2017.

"If they become pregnant, most likely they will stop school, and if they stop school, they will not gain knowledge to help them get employed," Gatchalian said.

In 2022, it went down to 5.4 percent but Gatchalian expressed concern that teenage pregnancy among 15-year-olds went up from 0.5 to 1.4.

Former DepEd Secretary Leonor Briones, who was also present during the hearing, recalled that during her time, the agency came up with a directive that pregnant girls should be allowed to continue their studies.

"Not only the girls, but the boys should also have exposure to reproductive health and we started that as a regular part, but not expelling students who get pregnant," said Briones, now center director of the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization INNOTECH.

Meanwhile, Torio said DepEd has a Learner Rights and Protection Office (LRPO), the lead unit related to child protection at different governance levels.

Under LRPO is the Child Protection Unit which envisions that learners in the Philippines are protected from violence, exploitation, discrimination, bullying, and other forms of abuse in schools.

DepEd earlier expressed support for proposals in the Senate to standardize CSE in all levels of basic education, saying this would break the "persistent taboo" on discussing adolescent sexuality and reproductive health. (PNA)