News - Youth Education Experts Call for Comprehensive Sexuality Education


 

One out of 10 Filipino women aged 15 to 19 years is already a mother and the Philippines has one of the highest teenage pregnancy rates among members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

A comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) among the country’s young people can reverse this disturbing trend. While a number of government and private organizations, including schools, have some programs in place on adolescent reproductive health and sexuality education, these are not sufficiently funded nor extensively implemented.

The Likhaan Center for Women’s Health, with support from PCPD, organized a round table discussion of youth education experts from various fields involved in ASRH to find common grounds and discuss strategies on how to address the problem of teenage pregnancy through a comprehensive sexuality education.

The RTD happened at the time when intense debates are ongoing in Congress for the passage of the reproductive health bill.  

One of the most contentious provisions of the bill is its provision mandating schools to teach “age-appropriate comprehensive sexuality education” starting in Grade 5 to Fourth Year high school, something that a number of legislators want to remove from the bill.

The youth education experts in the RTD identified the following health care services that adolescents need:

·         Sexual and reproductive health information, counseling and services for safe motherhood, contraceptives, post-abortion care, management of sexually transmitted infections, nutrition education, and menstrual hygiene;

·         HIV/AIDS information and education, access to preventive commodities such as male and female condoms, voluntary counseling and testing, and early diagnosis and treatment of STIs;

·         Gender-based and sexual violence prevention, detection, counseling, and followup; and

·         General health checkup and counseling for substance abuse.

Based on the “full understanding of the needs of adolescents” and to help “enable them to live their potentials and avoid risky behaviors,” the youth education experts issued a Declaration on Adolescent Reproductive Health Education and Services that included the following recommendations:

·         Review and strengthen the Adolescent and Youth Health and Development program of the Department of Health that guides the setting up of public youth-friendly health service center;

·         Develop mechanisms so PhilHealth can assist adolescents’ access to needed diagnostics and treatment;

·         Develop a framework and access on sexuality education that has the following features:

                         (a) Based on values such as self-respect, respect for others, responsibility, equality; and equity;

                          (b) Respond to different gender needs such as violence against women for girls and high school dropout rates for boys;

             (c) Age- and development-appropriate and culturally-sensitive;

(d) Comprehensive in scope and addresses pre- and post-adolescence, its protection and empowerment aspects, all religious and nonreligious beliefs, needs of  young people in different sectors, involvement of teachers and parents, and can occur at home, in school, in the workplace, communities, clinics and other venues;

·         Encourage wide-ranging public discussions on the rights of adolescents to comprehensive sexuality education and adolescent-friendly RH services; and

·         Enact the RH bill.


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