THE Department of Education, which got the biggest slice of the government’s P3.35 trillion for next year, will incorporate drug prevention and sex education in the curriculum, Secretary Leonor Briones said in a budget hearing.
“These are President Duterte’s expectations on what he wants to achieve through the educational system,” Briones said at the House briefing on the agency’s proposed budget for 2017.
Briones said drug use prevention is actually being taught already in science and health subjects but the program will be strengthened through alternative learning methods starting in Grade 4.
“The President also wants to strengthen the gender and development component of the school curricula, especially in relation to sex education and teenage pregnancy.”
Briones said sex education will also be strengthened amid local and international studies showing that the Philippines has the highest number of teen pregnancies in Asia.
The Family Planning Organization of the Philippines had earlier said that they had tried to implement stronger sex education programs in pilot areas, like Quezon City, IloIlo and General Santos, with the Department of Education but the effort is actually “not yet comprehensive.”
“We are still very, very far from the target,” said FPOP executive director Nandy Senoc. “The youth, instead of having the capacity to protect themselves from unwanted pregnancy and [human immunodeficiency virus], don’t get the information from their parents.”
“Rather, they get the information from their peers, who also doesn’t know any better,” he said, noting that talking about sex is still considered taboo and that prevents girls from knowing their own reproductive cycle.
“They [DepEd] have been incorporating it with the new curriculum, but it is still shallow,” he said.
Even the Department of Health reported that the standards of CSE are still undeveloped.
“DepEd has already included CSE in its K to 12 curriculum although it has not yet adopted the CSE standards developed by a panel of experts in consultation with teachers, parents, RH providers, and the adolescents themselves,” the agency said in a report.“Teachers have yet to be trained on how best to deliver age-specific CSE within the K to 12 curriculum,” the report read.
The CSE is given by teachers to school children and by peer educators to out-of-school youth as part of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Law that remains challenged by critics.
According to the National Demographic and Health Survey, one in 10 young Filipino women age 15-19 has begun childbearing: 8 percent are already mothers and another 2 percent are pregnant with their first child.
Among young adult women age 20 to 24, 43 percent are already mothers and 4 percent are pregnant with their first child.
Early pregnancy and motherhood is more common among young adult women age 15 to 24 with less education than among those with higher education (44 percent for women with elementary education versus 21 percent for women with college education).
Early childbearing is also more common in Caraga (38 percent) and Cagayan Valley (37 percent) than other regions.
The proportion of young adult women who have begun childbearing is higher among those classified as belonging to poor households than those in wealthier households (37 percent for young women in the lowest wealth quintile versus 13 percent for women in the highest wealth quintile).
The survey also reveals that one in five (19 percent) young adult Filipino women age 18 to 24 years had initiated their sexual activity before age 18. Some of them would have had their first intimate sexual act before marriage.
The survey reveals that 15 percent of young adult women age 20 to 24 had their first marriage or began living with their first spouse or partner by age 18.
This proportion is lower than the proportion (19 percent) earlier cited regarding initiation by young women of an intimate sexual activity. Age at first marriage hardly changed over the years. A slightly higher proportion (17 percent) of older cohort of women (age group 40-49) had their first marriage at age 18.