Reproductive Health Education: What can you say, Luzon?

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By Regina Layug Rosero

Almost 100 participants gathered at Lancaster Hotel from April 2 to 4 for the Luzon leg of the National Consultative Workshops on RH and Sexuality Education. The participants convened to share insights, lessons and challenges on existing and potential approaches to RH and sexuality education in support of the new Republic Act 10354.

The NCWRHSE was a series of workshops where various sectors were consulted on a framework for RH and sexuality education. There were regional consultations for participants from NCR, Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. The Luzon consultation was the final workshop.

The findings from all four workshops will be organized into a comprehensive framework, which will be presented at a national conference in May 2013.

The participants at the Luzon workshop came from a variety of sectors. From government agencies, there were representatives from the Center for Health Development of Cagayan Valley; the DOH Family Health Office; the DepEd Division Office of Olongapo; Barretto High School; the Bureau of Alternative Learning Systems (BALS); the DILG from Region IVA; and the Philippine National AIDS Council (PNAC). From civil society, in attendance were the Philippine NGO Council (PNGOC); Save the Children; the UP Center for Women’s Studies; Woman Health Philippines; the UP Gender Office; NCHIP Philippines; the UP Econ Foundation; Change; and RPI Philippines.

Several speakers gave talks on the situation of adolescent sexual and reproductive health (ASRH) in the Philippines. Percival Cendaña, Commissioner-at-Large of the National Youth Commission, talked about the miseducation of the youth. He said, “Sexuality education usually starts at 15. But 15 is too late. It should start as early as 10. Adolescence is 10-19 years old. This is one of the most crucial periods in life. Nagigising na lang sila na may nagbabago sa katawan nila. They feel strongly about things and issues.”

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A panel presentation discussed existing frameworks on comprehensive sexuality education. From the International Planned Parenthood Federation came Jeross Aguilar, who talked about different ASRH challenges in different countries all over the world. From PNAC came Dr. Susan Gregorio, who talked about UNESCO frameworks.

Mitos Rivera of the Institute of Reproductive Health discussed PopDevEd, which is a curriculum from elementary to college, presenting population and development frameworks in addition to family health, gender roles and sexuality, in a Catholic context. The curriculum was developed in cooperation with the Philippine Center for Population and Development, and is currently in use in the University of San Carlos. Rivera explained that few private Catholic schools are using this, but many public schools have adopted it. Rivera also said that DepEd Region 3 is already using this framework.

Based on these and other talks by experienced speakers, the participants gathered in groups for discussions. In one session, they talked about the challenges best practices, lessons learned, strengths and weaknesses of existing strategies in their different sectors. In another session, they reviewed four CSE programs currently in practice in Luzon, and extracted strong points that could be utilized for the new framework. After each session, the participants presented their findings in plenary sessions, to be compiled into the comprehensive framework for presentation at the national conference.

At the end of the workshop was a video presentation by Mulat Pinoy, summarizing the activities of the three-day event. Closing remarks were given by Dr. Honorato Catibog of the DOH Family Health Office, and by NYC Commissioner for Luzon Georgina Nava.

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