February 26, 2021
Aiming to intensify the promotion of Adolescent Sexuality and Reproductive Health (ASRH) education in schools, the Commission on Population and Development – Region X (POPCOM X) had partnered with Catholic Church-run schools. On February 11, 2021, St. Mary’s School of Carmen, Cagayan de Oro City, a catholic school managed by Religious Virgin Mary (RVM) sisters invited POPCOM X to conduct virtual ASRH class. Eighty-seven (87) students from Grades 7-10 composed of 33 males and 54 females joined the activity as their zoom limits participants. However, it was streamed live via Facebook and garnered 1.3K views, 162 comments, 176 reactions and 26 shares.
In 2020, in the midst of COVID-19 pandemic, a total of 9,982 students composed of 3,594 males and 5,698 females were reached out for ASRH information. This includes 690 students in Grades 7-12 of St. Rita’s College, the RVM school in the Municipality of Balingasag, Misamis Oriental, and one of the biggest catholic schools in eastbound Misamis Oriental. These classes were also streamed live via Facebook entitled “Teenage Pregnancy Prevention: Handa na ba ako?”
Both engagements via zoom were a “Psychological-Spiritual-Emotional (PSE) Awareness Webinar for Teenage Pregnancy Prevention” focusing on topics related to love and romantic relationships, to give emphasis on changing feelings and changing relationships that adolescent experience at a very young age; discussion on the different common reasons why adolescent say YES to early sexual initiation, and the different risks that adolescents experience if they get pregnant or if they get someone pregnant at a very young age. This initiative is in line with POPCOM’s dire call to continue educating adolescents on ASRH using social media technology available to both students and education providers.
The Guidance Office and Christian Formation Center of both RVM schools recognize the need to provide educational enrichment sessions to its students in view of the rising teenage pregnancy. The school administrators do not deny that this societal problem in global scale exists and could even be observed and seen in their schools and even farthest outside. It also recognizes that, more so in poor communities, the problem continues to worry parents, teachers and program implementers.
Lack of knowledge about responsible sexual behaviors is identified as a common factor which led to rampant early sexual encounters by young people resulting to teen pregnancies and other consequences like illiteracy, malnutrition, poverty and many others.
This ASRH education program of St. Rita’s College and St. Mary’s School is a sign that working together to address sexual issues concerning young people like early sexual encounters, teen pregnancies and STIs, HIV/AIDS is possible.