The implementation of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health (RPRH) Act, especially its education and communication component, should be strengthened.
This was according to Mary Pauline Saquing, consultant at the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) and a coauthor of the study featured in a webinar recently organized by the Institute.
Saquing noted that while the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) has been responsive to the RPRH-related communication needs of local government units (LGUs) and concerned agencies by providing technical and nontechnical assistance and nonmonetary funding, it “has no set objectives specific for RPRH”. For better implementation of the law, she highlighted the need for RPRH-specific targets in the agency.
Another issue is the lack of policies or programs on RPRH at the DOH’s Health Promotion and Communication Service (HPCS). Saquing said assigning a focal point person for the RPRH program at the HPCS may help implement the provisions of the law related to the development and implementation of a sustained nationwide multimedia campaign, health promotion and communication strategies, and technical assistance to LGUs.
In education, Saquing noted that the Department of Education (DepEd) developed and issued policies and guidelines in 2018 for Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE). However, the implementation of CSE was hampered by the lack of qualified workforce, facilities, training, instructional materials, coordination, and monitoring system.
There is also confusion in the integration of RPRH information across all subject areas, according to Saquing.
“In the [DepEd Memorandum Order] 31, it is specified that only in certain subject areas is the RPRH information mandatorily integrated, which runs counter to the provision of the IRR that such information must be integrated in all subject areas,” she pointed out.
To address this, the study recommended issuing supplemental guidelines in implementing the RPRH education or CSE with details on the extent of integration across all subject areas.
Saquing also emphasized strengthening psychosocial services specific to RPRH. Due to the lack of licensed guidance counselors and school nurses, teachers are assigned to deliver some of the tasks expected of those personnel.
“Hiring licensed guidance counselors and school nurses is crucial in properly addressing the RPRH-related psychosocial needs of students. Physical facilities for such services should also be present,” she said.
Moreover, curriculum guides and other instructional materials should specify age- and development-appropriate RPRH topics.
“This will ensure that such topics have been carefully chosen and arranged based on the needs of the learners and their developmental stages,” she explained.
Finally, Saquing emphasized the importance of strengthening RPRH programs to realize the law’s goals, especially in education.
“To enhance the motivating and enabling factors in the implementation of the CSE, creation of awards and recognition guidelines for compliant schools, allotment of RPRH-specific budget, and creation of the RPRH implementation committee in schools are recommended,” she concluded.