Cebu News

Sex education: On the verge of freedom

- Marjun A. Baguio -

CEBU, Philippines - The debate on the propriety of integrating sex education into the school curriculum is far from over and opposing sectors believe a thorough discussion is necessary to arrive at a reasonable resolution.

Observers, however, say the issue is starting to give birth to an another pressing concern – that the ongoing debate is no longer helping the children and young adults who are supposed to be the target of the Department of Education initiative.

Beginning this school year, 79 public high schools and 80 elementary schools will adopt sex education in their curricula wherein grade five and six elementary pupils and high school students at all levels will be made aware of sexually transmitted diseases, HIV, and the number of AIDS cases in the country.

Sex education, according to DepEd, will be made part of existing subjects such as science, wellness, values education, and reading comprehension. It will also be incorporated in math lessons by way of problem solving and computation of figures using facts and figures related to sex education.

DepEd Secretary Mona Valisno said teenage pregnancies have become a trend and sex education will reportedly lessen the occurrence. Valisno contended it is better that students learn about sex education in the classroom rather than on the Internet where information is uncensored and guidance by a responsible adult is not available.

The coverage of sex education classes will be based on materials prepared by experts, psychologists and educators, she said. Among the topics include the importance of making the right decision and avoiding vices.

Valisno added it is even better if parents would complement the teachings in school by discussing sex education with their children at home.

But Archbishop Oscar Cruz said that while it is not a requirement, there reportedly was no proper consultation initiated by DepEd or the government at large when it decided to introduce sex education into the school curriculum.

Cruz said the module on sex education should not solely contain materials about sex, but rather on human sexuality as a whole. He also said the Catholic Church hopes that this time around, sex education won’t be taught in the premise of birth control like before.

What recently stole the limelight was what the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) that a move is underway to also integrate sex education into the curriculum for kindergarten kids.

CBCP stood firm that “there is always a time for everything” and that it’s a shocking idea to teach “these little angels” of safe sex, reproductive health, and sexuality.

CBCP also believes that it is the parents that have the responsibility to explain to their children answers to questions such as why they have siblings and where they came from.

This sentiment was echoed by Mandaue Mayor Jonas Cortes when he said teaching sex education is the responsibility of parents and not teachers.

He said there is no longer the need to integrate sex educations in any subject area in both elementary and secondary levels because the subject Anatomy already tackles body parts such as sex organs and human reproduction, human organs in Biology, hygiene is incorporated in Health, while population is taken up in Social Science.

Meanwhile, for Philippine National AIDS Council, an agency of the Department of Health, the readiness of teachers teaching sex education should not be kept at bay since the subject will tackle sensitive topics such as AIDS and HIV.

DepEd has clarified that the program is still on the pilot test stage and its “survival” will greatly depend on the next administration.

In a report by World Health Organizationv (WHO), a key issue in the battle over sex education is whether giving kids more information about sex actually leads to sexual activity.

In its study of 35 sex education programs around the world, it was found out that there is no evidence that comprehensive programs encourage sexual activity.

The study also concluded that abstinence-only programs are less effective than comprehensive classes that include abstinence and safe-sex practices such as contraception and condom use.

And with barely two weeks before the opening of classes, DepEd has to ensure that receptivity of these graders and high school students are carefully monitored in a manner that the goals and missions of sex education will not lead to an even more confusion to sex, or sex education, for that matter.

Because like any other sensitive issues, subjects relating to “sex” have never been openly discussed in broad daylight and in the context of academic freedom.   (FREEMAN NEWS)

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