April 8, 2020
The Department of Education (DepEd) Regional Office 10 reported that from June to December 2019, there were five hundred eighty-six (586) pregnancies among adolescents age 13 to 18 years old in the region. On average, there were three (3) recorded cases per day. DepEd Medical Officer IV, Dr. Myra G. Yee, shared this information during the 1st Quarter meeting of the Regional Implementation Team (RIT) on RPRH Law last February 21, 2020.
This data however, is not far from the one revealed by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) saying that among the 17 regions in the country, Northern Mindanao is second-highest on teenage pregnancy at 14.7%, next to Davao region at 17.9% (NDHS, 2017).
This problem is calling for immediate action and requiring high impact programs that will reduce the cases of underage pregnancies. Dr. Yee said in an interview that early pregnancy is robbing the children off of their future forcing them to let go of opportunities that will save them and their families from poverty. One of the strategies according to Dr. Yee should be to enrich young people with correct and appropriate information about sexuality and reproductive health. This intervention will greatly benefit especially those who have no one to consult to when they are faced with sexuality-related problems (20.5%, YAFS 2013). The country is in dire need of a comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) Module to help shape adolescents’ values, attitudes, and behaviors regarding social and sexual relationships in conformity to what is socially acceptable.
About Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE)
The education department released DepEd Order No. 31, series of 2018 purveying the guidelines for the implementation of CSE to all schools, both public and private, concerned.
The order specifically aims to ensure that adolescents have access to adequate and appropriate information and healthcare education and enhance the overall wellness of every Filipino youth to effectively address the needs of the learners for health and protection through education.
CSE is anchored on cognitive, emotional, physical and social aspects of sexuality that is scientific, age- and developmentally appropriate, culturally and gender-responsive, and with rights-based approach. Further, its implementation shall involve parents-teachers-community associations, school officials, relevant government agencies, civil society organizations, and other interest groups that ensure cultural acceptability, efficiency, and appropriateness of key concepts and messages.
The Commission on Population and Development (POPCOM), through its adolescent health and development (AHD) program, continuously provides adolescent sexuality and reproductive health (ASRH) information to in-school and out-of-school adolescents through the local population offices in the region. This is to supplement DepEd’s effort to empower adolescents to make positive decisions by teaching them basic and practical skills like effective communication, interpersonal relationship, critical and creative thinking, among others. Module on basic life skills includes teaching adolescents on abstinence and saying no to early sexual encounter.
POPCOM X supports the full implementation of CSE with high hopes that it will contribute to the reduction of teenage pregnancy cases in the region. POPCOM works toward the goal of ensuring that no child will bear another child.