By Regina Layug Rosero
It was in December 2012 when the controversial RH bill was finally signed into law, and it became Republic Act 10354. A key part of the new law was the section on RH and sexuality education. That part was also one of the most contentious.
How can one teach concepts of HIV and AIDS to children in Grade 5? How can you explain family planning to families that can barely eat three times a day? How can you frame these concepts so that they make sense to youth from Aparri to Jolo?
The search for the answer was conducted through the National Consultative Workshops on RH and Sexuality Education (NCWRHSE).
Organized by an assembly of organizations that include the departments of Health, Education and many other government agencies, the workshops were a series of consultations with representatives from various regions, in search of comprehensive input that can be used to form a framework for RH and sexuality education. In addition to government agencies, the workshops also involved public and private schools, youth organizations and civil society organizations that are already involved in some form of sexuality education.
There were four consultative workshops, each one held to convene representatives from Luzon, Visayas, Mindanao and National Capital Region. The NCR workshop took place in Subic, Zambales, from February 26 to 28, 2013. It was attended by over 60 participants from all over the NCR.
The workshop involved many speakers, whose talks dealt with a range of topics: the situation of adolescent sexual and reproductive health (ASRH) in the Philippines; international treaties and conventions on sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR); existing frameworks that are already in use for comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) in the Philippines; and grassroots programs that use alternative methods for CSE.
The participants shared their experiences, both as teachers and learners in CSE. They shared their best practices and lessons learned, especially in dealing with difficult topics like sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI), HIV/AIDS, prostitution and human trafficking.
Throughout the event, participants were encouraged to Tweet and to post on Facebook, so that the challenges and lessons shared at the event could be broadcast even to those who could not attend the workshop. Mulat Pinoy managed the social media coverage, and on the last day shared a video presentation about the three-day event.
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