By Regina Layug Rosero
Gender identity, prostitution and culturally sensitive materials on reproductive health and sexuality: these were just a few of the controversial topics that were discussed in Davao City at the recently concluded Mindanao leg of the National Consultative Workshops on RH and Sexuality Education. Over 50 participants from government agencies, NGOs, CSOs, and both public and private schools gathered for the workshop, held from March 11 to 13. The representatives came from all over Mindanao, and they discussed recommendations for the implementation of RH and Sexuality Education, as stipulated in Republic Act 10354: The Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012.
The participants included representatives from schools like Ateneo de Davao University, Magsaysay Academy, Gen. Santos High School Jose Catolico Senior Elementary School, and the Department of Education General Santos Division Office. Other government agencies that were represented included the Commission on Population, DILG, DSWD and DOH. From the informal education sector came groups like Child Alert, Alagad, Mr GAD and Jr. GAD, Kaugmaon Foundation and Catholic Youth Ministry.
Various speakers provided information to guide the workshops. Assistant Secretary Percival Cendaña, Commissioner-at-Large of the National Youth Commission, talked about the “Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health Situation in the Philippines,” highlighting statistics in Mindanao.
One session focused on existing national and international frameworks for sexuality education. The session featured the International Planned Parenthood Federation, of which the Family Planning Organization of the Philippines (FPOP) is a member. This framework was presented by RN Lady Lisondra. Another speaker in the session was Dr. Carol Guerrero, director of DepEd’s Bureau of Alternative Learning Systems, which teaches not only sexuality education but also mothercraft, a course on parenting for young mothers. Dean Evelina Vicencio of the University of the East-Manila College of Education discussed sexuality education within the K-12 curriculum, and Dr. Socorro Gultiano of the University of San Carlos Office of Population Studies talked about PopDevEd, a contextualized approach to human sexuality education.
The different talks prepared the participants for discussions about RH and sexuality education in Mindanao. They tackled questions like the advantages and disadvantages of existing programs and frameworks; challenges faced by educators in different contexts; and issues like teen pregnancies, HIV transmission, sexual and other forms of violence, human trafficking, stigma and discrimination and access to ASRH information and services.
The Mindanao workshop was the second in a series. The first one took place in Subic Bay Freeport Zone, Zambales, in February 2013, and involved participants from the National Capital Region. Following the Mindanao workshop was the Visayas consultation in Cebu from March 18 to 20.
The final regional consultation will take place in Mandaluyong City from April 2 to 4, with participants from all over Luzon. Finally, there will be a National Conference to present the findings from the regional workshops, scheduled for April 23 to 25, 2013.
To be a part of the regional workshops, participants must be from national government agencies, civil society organizations, private groups, academic institutions or youth-led organizations with national coverage. They must be involved in sexuality education and/or adolescent sexual and reproductive health and rights work; must be working with young people; and must be a young person working with the Young Key Affected Population (10-24 year olds).
This workshop series is a joint effort by government agencies and private institutions. The members of the Steering Committee are the following (in alphabetical order):
- Commission on Population (PopCom)
- Department of Education (DepEd)
- Department of Health (DOH)
- Family Planning Organization of the Philippines (FPOP)
- Likhaan Center for Women’s Health (Likhaan)
- Mulat Pinoy
- National Youth Commission (NYC)
- Philippine Center for Population Development (PCPD)
- Philippine National AIDS Council (PNAC)
- Philippine Network of FPOP Youth Advocates
- Task Force Batang Ina
- United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)
- UP Population Institute (UPPI)
- WomanHealth Philippines
- Youth Peer Education Network (Y-PEER)
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