I will not attempt to argue for or against the Bill. Look what that did to Pacquiao. Instead I'd like to focus on Section 16. Mandatory Age-Appropriate Reproductive Health and Sexuality Education. That's because I'm an EDUCATOR, and the passing of this bill is going to affect the way decisions will be made in the school where I work, and the entire scope of sectarian education. It's going to impact hiring, curriculum, institutional objectives. Most importantly, it will affect our students, who deserve nothing less than a curriculum that addresses what they actually need to know, learn and do to become proactive and value-formed young citizens, and not because its authors and promoters were more articulate and media-savvy.
Here's the full text of Section 16. To save on space, I inserted my comments on certain items in RED.
Age-appropriate Reproductive Health and Sexuality Education shall be taught by adequately trained teachers in formal and non-formal educational system starting from Grade Five up to Fourth Year High School using life skills and other approaches. The Reproductive Health and Sexuality Education shall commence at the start of the school year immediately following one (1) year from the effectivity of this Act to allow the training of concerned teachers. [One Year? This should be a major, or course track in College! Short-term seminars are not enough to prepare teachers to teach such a sensitive subject matter.] The Department of Education (DepEd), the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), the DSWD, and the DOH shall formulate the Reproductive Health and Sexuality Education curriculum. Such curriculum shall be common to both public and private schools, [Ok, when you say private schools, that would be mostly sectarian schools--Christian, Catholic, Muslim. These schools have invested much time, effort and expense on curriculum designs and educational materials that go way, way beyond DepEd's minimum learning competencies. So now, private schools are MANDATED to use a government-designed curriculum? Here is a clear violation of Academic Freedom! I refuse to teach a curriculum that is rammed down my throat!] out of school youth, and enrollees in the Alternative Learning System (ALS) based on, but not limited to, the psychosocial and the physical wellbeing, the demography and reproductive health, and the legal aspects of reproductive health.
Age-appropriate Reproductive Health and Sexuality Education shall be integrated in all relevant subjects and shall include, but not limited to, the following topics:
(a) Values formation; [Check. Have this already.]
(b) Knowledge and skills in self protection against discrimination, sexual violence and abuse, and teen pregnancy;[Check. Except that "protection against...teen pregnancy" looks suspiciously like "Use contraceptives, kids.]
(c) Physical, social and emotional changes in adolescents; [Check. Have this already.]
(d) Children’s and women’s rights; [Based on what rights? The United Nations? Needs clarification.]
(e) Fertility awareness; [So I'm aware. Then what?]
(f) STI, HIV and AIDS; [Definitely necessary. No use beating around the bush here.]
(g) Population and development; [And here lies the pro-RH banner: We breed therefore we're poor. I still subscribe to: There's Greed, therefore there's Poverty.]
(h) Responsible relationship; [Whoa. No school can teach that. Not to have an early relationship is ideal, but who among the kids out there actually listen, and abstain?]
(i) Family planning methods; [I'm not going to trust a non-medical professional to even touch that topic. ]
(j) Proscription and hazards of abortion; [Check. Have this already. Saw the Silent Scream.]
(k) Gender and development; and [Check. Have this already]
(l) Responsible parenthood. [Check. Have this already].
The DepEd, CHED, DSWD, TESDA and DOH shall provide concerned parents with adequate and relevant scientific materials on the age-appropriate topics and manner of teaching Reproductive Health and Sexuality Education to their children.
Oh, there's a really riotous amendment to that last paragraph:
"Parents shall exercise the option of not allowing their minor children to attend classes pertaining to Reproductive Health and Sexuality Education." [ So if the parents can opt out of this, why not the schools?]
Bottomline: Congress could pass the Bill now, and not wait for our TV sets to explode, but mandating ALL SCHOOLS to comply with all provisions within one year is an imposition that puts our school-age children at risk, putting them in the hands of haphazardly-trained teachers. Where are the modules that are already being used in the public schools? Do the private schools have copies that they can study? Where are the operating guidelines accompanying Section 16?
Did I say I will not argue? The future well-being of my students is at stake here. Fat friggin' chance.
Pertinent links (where both sides are represented):