PALAWAN, Philippines – It’s not enough that teachers teach about the birds and the bees, they should also know how to react when their students ask about birds laying eggs and where to go when the bee stings.
A health nongovernmental organization is giving workshops to teachers who are handling sexuality education in schools to prepare them for their students' street-smart queries and for counseling.
"It’s not enough to know about the different parts of the reproductive systems," said Kevin de Vera, the program associate for training and research of the Forum for Family Planning and Development Incorporated.
"You should also be prepared not to be shocked by the questions being raised by your students," De Vera added.
De Vera said that they have compiled about 100 frequently-asked questions on sexuality from students they counseled in Cebu, Albay, and Benguet and some of them can be shocking.
"They would ask you if it’s okay to have sex every day and having sex during menstruation," he said.
"They might laugh and you would think that they’re making fun of you but laughter is their way of putting off stress," De Vera told about 60 high school teachers from El Nido and Taytay towns.
Forum has already given the 3-day training entitled "Bridging gaps in teaching reproductive health" in Cebu City, Albay, Ifugao, and Benguet. (READ: Sex education in PH schools still lacking – UNFPA)
Here in El Nido, many of the teachers who attended are unmarried fresh graduates and pious.
“They are hesitant to teach sexuality and reproductive health,” said Marybeth Balino, the division adolescent reproductive health coordinator of Department of Education here.
“We have this Filipino attitude that this is bastos (lewd),” she said.
Interestingly, the most popular lecture in the workshop is about the Bible and reproductive health teaching.
“You should not impose your beliefs on them,” said Chi Vallido, Forum’s director for programs and advocacy.
Vallido said that sexuality education should be evidence-based for the students to be able to make an informed choice.
She said that many of the teachers have only a vague idea about Republic Act 10354 or the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012 which prompted Department of Education Secretary Leonor Briones to craft last July the memorandum on the policy of guidelines on the implementation of the comprehensive sexuality education.
The Young Adults Fertility Survey in 2014 showed that 60% of the Filipino youth get their knowledge about sex from their barkada or close friends and less than 10% discuss sex in their homes. Twenty-one percent of the youth do not discuss sex with anyone.
Another popular topic in the workshop is the different family planning methods. The teachers were made to prepare a module on the FP methods and act it out during the workshop.
El Nido Mayor Nieves Cabunalda Rosento said that teen pregnancy is among the highest in her town. (READ: Health experts push for PH policy on teenage pregnancy)
Rosento said that many of their villages are remote islands and many of the high school students live in boarding houses where they are vulnerable to situations that lead to pregnancy. She said the students they live away from their homes and their teachers have a crucial role in preventing teenage pregnancy.
The mayor said that her campaign is to keep students in school and help bring back the out-of-school youth to schools. – Rappler.com