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Senate bill eyes comprehensive sex education to prevent teenage pregnancy

A bill seeking to teach comprehensive sex education (CSE) in schools is up for deliberations in the Senate.

Senate Bill 1979 under Committee Report 41 or the proposed Prevention of Adolescent Pregnancy Act tasks the Department of Education to develop and promote educational standards, modules, and materials to promote CSE in schools, communities and other youth institutions.

The bill states that CSE will be a “compulsory part of education, integrated at all levels with the end goal of normalizing discussions about adolescent sexuality and reproductive health and to remove stigma at all levels.”

The measure will create an Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention which will ensure that the CSE will be medically-accurate, culturally sensitive, rights-based, inclusive and non discriminatory towards LGBTQIA adolescents.

The DepEd, the council and other relevant agencies will be in charge of crafting the CSE.

The CSE will include age and development-appropriate topics such as human sexuality, informed consent, reproductive health, effective contraceptive use, sexually transmitted infections, HIV/AIDS, hygiene, among others.

It will be standardized and implemented in all public and private basic education institutions and will not be dependent upon the discretion of the school administration and on its teachers.

The bill also included a provision that will institutionalize the interactive learning methodologies for CSE among out-of-school youth adolescents in the communities and workplaces.

SB 1979 also seeks to develop a National Program of Action and Investment Plan for the Prevention of Adolescent Pregnancy.

This program shall be based in the inter-agency program of action involving all relevant government agencies and be considered as a program that is eligible for multiyear funding and inter-agency obligational authority to ensure the allocation for the key strategies in all concerned government agencies. 

Section 13 of the measure also tasks the local government units to assist those who are currently pregnant or have given birth and to their respective partners in order to prevent repeat pregnancies and ensure their well-being while assuming responsibilities of being young parents.

The services will include maternal health services including pre-natal and post-natal check ups, post-natal family planning counseling and services for both adolescent parents, home-based or online, in-school or technical vocational education, personal PhilHealth coverage, enrollment to social insurance like Social Security System, training , skills development and support to livelihood programs, continuing CSE, workshops on parenting and positive disciplining, among others.

Further, the measure seeks to develop a program which will promote male involvement in the prevention of early and unintended pregnancies.

It likewise seeks to declare February of every year as the month of raising awareness on prevention of adolescent pregnancy and conduct a nationwide communication campaign. —Hana Bordey/KBK, GMA Integrated News