MANILA, Philippines — When will students start getting sex education after President Benigno Aquino III signs the reproductive health bill into law?
Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, principal author of the RH bill at the House of Representatives, said on Thursday lessons could begin a year later, after the Department of Education had prepared the curriculum.
But the time table is not contained in the bicameral conference committee report, which, Lagman admitted, adopted the Senate version on the sex education provision.
The final version states that “flexibility in the formulation and adoption of appropriate course content, scope and methodology in each educational level or group shall be allowed only after consultations with parents-teachers-community associations, school officials, and other interest groups.”
“DepEd shall formulate a curriculum which shall be used by public schools and may be adopted by private schools,” Section 14 of the bicam report went on.
Lagman said the time frame for the implementation of the sex education provision was clearer during the House deliberations. But he said he was optimistic that it would be clarified in the implementing rules and regulations of the RH bill later on.
“I think it will be included in the IRR,” he said in a phone interview. “The provision can be implemented a year later when the DepEd has already completed the curriculum in consultations with different stakeholders.
He added: “The DepEd cannot formulate a curriculum in a vacuum. There has to be consultations.”
Lagman said it would be up to the DepEd whether it would adopt foreign textbooks to implement the provision on “age- and development-appropriate reproductive health education.”
“That’s their call, but I don’t think that would be necessary,” he said. “They could do some cross-reference with foreign materials, but they can formulate their own textbooks.”
Lagman said RH lessons could cover more year levels in case the K+12 program finally becomes a law. He earlier said the sex education provision would benefit around 7.5 million children enrolled in public schools.
Unlike the House version, the bicam report on the RH bill did not set sex education to begin at a specific year level.
It states only that “the State shall provide age- and development-appropriate reproductive health education to adolescents, which shall be taught by adequately trained teachers in formal and non-formal educational system and integrated in relevant subjects such as, but not limited to, values formation…”
The House version was more specific, saying RH and sexuality education shall be taught “starting from Grade 6 up to fourth year high school using life skills and other approaches.”