DepEd urged to find gaps in Reproductive Health education, stop increase in teenage pregnancies

Robie de Guzman   •   April 8, 2021   •   1112

MANILA, Philippines — Senator Sherwin Gatchalian on Thursday called on the Department of Education (DepEd) to urgently address the gaps in reproductive health education, especially amid the COVID-19 pandemic that threatens to increase the number of teenage mothers in the country.

In a statement, Gatchalian cited a March study by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) which showed the lack of adequate materials and accessible teacher training for the effective implementation of age and development-appropriate reproductive health education.

Reproductive health education is mandated under Republic Act 10354 or the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012.

Gatchalian who chairs the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture also noted a recent report citing the Commission on Population and Development (POPCOM) which revealed that the number of teenage pregnancies in the Cordilleras recently spiked by 46.43 percent.

The senator warned that existing lockdown measures could “exacerbate the surge of teenage pregnancy in the country.”

“Lalo nating dapat paigtingin ang pagtugon sa mga kakulangang ito, lalo na’t ang pagdami ng mga batang ina ay isa sa mga nakita nating epekto ng pandemya,” Gatchalian said.

DepEd had issued DO 31 s. 2018 to guide the delivery of comprehensive sexuality education (CSE).

However, the PIDS study pointed out that when it comes to reproductive health education, “there is an apparent lack of qualified manpower, facilities, training, instructional materials, coordination, and monitoring system.”

The PIDS’ focus group discussions with teachers of different subject groups also revealed that training on CSE curriculum integration was inadequate and inaccessible.

While most of the provisions of the law have been complied with, the state think tank stressed there is still a need for strengthened programs to realize the goals of the law.

“Bagama’t ilang taon na ang lumipas simula nang magkaroon tayo ng batas sa Reproductive Health Law at magkaroon ng polisiya ang DepEd sa usapin ng CSE, may mga kakulangan pa rin tayong nakikita tulad ng sapat na teacher trainings at learning materials upang maging mas mabisa ang pagtuturo ng Comprehensive Sexual Education sa ating mga paaralan,” Gatchalian said.

Data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) revealed that in 2020, there were 2,422 babies born to teenage parents in the Cordilleras from 1,654 in 2019.

On a national scale, pregnancies among minors aged 15 and below were up by 7 percent in 2019 compared to the previous year.

DepEd confirms increase of hardship allowance for teachers

Aileen Cerrudo   •   May 27, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Education (DepEd) has announced that teachers will receive a higher Special Hardship Allowance (SHA).

DepEd said it signed a joint memorandum with the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) that stipulates that eligible teachers and school heads may receive 25 percent of their monthly basic salary as SHA when they get to be assigned in hardship posts.

The SHA is given to classroom teachers in elementary and secondary schools, including school heads or administrators who will be exposed to extreme difficulties and hazards, such as difficulty in commuting to the place of work. The SHA is to be given monthly.

DepEd Undersecretary for Finance Annalyn Sevilla said DepEd and the DBM issued the Joint Circular No. 1 s., 2021, amending the National Budget Circular 514, s. 2007 and qualified teachers will only submit their DTR as supporting documents to avail of the said allowance.

“May bago na issuance ang DBM at DepEd kasi gagawin na po natin ang hazard index. Ibig sabihin, hindi na kailangan mag-submit ng mga documents to claim the Special Hardship Allowance because DBM and DepEd agreed to issue new criteria for our [Special] Hardship Allowance,” she said.

SHA can also be availed of by teachers in pure multigrade schools, mobile teachers, and non-formal education or Alternative Learning System (ALS) coordinators. -AAC

DepEd says in-person graduation ceremony still banned

Aileen Cerrudo   •   May 25, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Education (DepEd) said that in-person graduation and other end-of-school-year (EOSY) rites in basic education are still banned.

Under DepEd Memorandum No. 027 series of 2021, schools and Community Learning Centers (CLCs) are not allowed to conduct any face-to-face ceremony to ensure the safety and protection of students, teachers, parents, and other personnel amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. Schools, however, can choose whether to forgo the said activity or conduct the rites online.

From July 12 to 16, 2021, schools and CLCs are given the discretion to select the date for holding this year’s EOSY rites. For private schools, they shall be guided by their approved or revised school calendars.

“Any face-to-face ceremony is not allowed. The virtual conduct of the EOSY rites may be an option for schools and CLCs, whenever feasible,” the memorandum stated.

The 2021 EOSY Rites shall focus on the theme Kalidad ng Edukasyon Lalong Patatagin sa gitna ng Pandemya (Strengthening the Quality of Education Amid the COVID- 19 Pandemic) to highlight the learners’ rights to inclusive and quality education, and that safety from the health risks of COVID- 19 must be given priority amid all the challenges. AAC

DepEd to submit proposal to open school year on August 23

Aileen Cerrudo   •   May 20, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Education (DepEd) will submit a proposal to President Rodrigo Duterte concerning the schedule for the opening of classes for the school year 2021-2022.

In a virtual public briefing on Thursday (May 20), DepEd Usec. Annalyn Sevilla said one of the options is to open the school year on August 23. She also added that they will submit other dates to the President.

“So ang una pong option natin ay sa August 23 at mayroon din po kaming ibang mga dates na ipre-present po ni Secretary sa ating Presidente,” she said.

(Our first option is on August 23 and we also have other dates that DepEd Secretary Leonor Briones will present to the President.)

Sevilla also said that the department will not allow resuming face-to-face classes unless there is a go signal from the Department of Health, COVID-19 task force, and the President.

She assured students will continue to learn through distance learning, using self-learning modules, and through DepEd TV.

“Hindi po tayo babalik sa face-to-face educational learning delivery system kung hindi po ito papayagan. Pero magtutuloy po ang pag-aral. Itutuloy natin ang tinatawag na self-learning modules online through the DepEd TV, DepEd radio, at iba pa pong approaches,” she said.

(We will not return to a face-to-face educational learning delivery system if it is not allowed. But education will continue. We will continue what we call self-learning modules online through the DepEd TV, DepEd radio, and other approaches.) -AAC

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