MANILA The Department of Education (DepEd) on Tuesday highlighted the need for the inclusion of reproductive health (RH) education in the public school curriculum as a means to curb the rising number of student dropouts due to teenage pregnancy.
Appearing before the House Committee on Appropriations for the agency's 2020 budget proposal, DepEd Secretary Leonor Briones said teenage pregnancy could now be considered as the major reason why children drop out of school.
Citing data from the 2017 Annual Poverty Indicators Survey of the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), Briones noted that 61.9 percent of the more than two million out-of-school children and youth (OSCY) ages 16-24 dropped out from school due to marriage/family matters.
For both sexes, there was 44.3 percent of the 2.97 million OSCYs in the same age bracket.
On the other hand, there was only 18.8 percent who dropped out of school due to lack of personal interest, and 18.6 percent from high cost of education/financial concern.
The number showed that the reason for the high number of the dropout rate of girls is marriage and family matters, which can be treated also as teenage pregnancy, Briones told lawmakers.
This prompted Benguet 1st District Rep. Nestor Fongwan to express alarm over teenage pregnancy and its effects in the country's education system and asked Briones what are the agency's plans to address teenage pregnancy, especially in senior high school.
Briones said RH education is the key to addressing the problem, one that is advocated even by President Rodrigo Duterte.
Even before I assumed as DepEd secretary, I was given instructions by President Duterte to adjust the curriculum to include RH and gender education for learners starting at the age of 10, Briones said.
She said they have been considering starting RH education at an early age because the earliest recorded pregnancy in the Philippines is 10 years old.
Briones added that the issue of teenage pregnancy was also among the major issues discussed during a summit held by the DepEd and the Department of Health (DOH) last week.
She said the instructions of President Duterte on the matter of teenage pregnancy were again brought up in the summit that was titled Informed Choices.
It was not noticed by the public because I was hesitant to have a conference on teenage pregnancy as a crisis, the DepEd chief said.
But we have to give our children choices and we could not give them choices without RH education, Briones added. (PNA)
Source: Philippines News Agency