Give them maps, they’ll learn geography; give them condoms . . .
A teachers’ group on Thursday strongly opposed the plan of the Department of Health (DOH) to distribute condoms to young students as part of its “business unusual” strategy amid the surge of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) among the youth in the country.
Teachers’ Dignity Coalition national chair Benjo Basas on Thursday said that while their group is not against sex education, it finds the act of distributing condoms in schools “disturbing” and could send a wrong message to young students.
“If we give them a world map, they will learn geography. If we give them a basketball or a chessboard, they will gather their friends and play. What would happen if we give them condoms?” Basas asked.
He said the group believes that the best weapon to combat HIV/AIDS as well as teenage pregnancy is still through education on sexuality and on responsible parenthood and reproductive health.
The distribution of condoms would only be acceptable if necessity would arise in the course of educating the students, he said.
“What we don’t like about the plan is that it might stimulate curiosity [among students] in a bad way. It’s not being backward or conservative, we just want things to be in order,” Basas said.
He also said the group was ready to cooperate with the Department of Education (DepEd) and the DOH and participate in their discussions on the issue.
Both agencies have agreed to sit down together in a series of discussions to thresh out the details of the program and craft guidelines that will be acceptable to the DepEd.
While recognizing the need to curb the rising incidence of teenage pregnancy and HIV/AIDS among the youth, Education Secretary Leonor Briones was averse to the program, saying the distribution of condoms in schools should only be done among high school students who have undergone counseling.
“The giving of condoms will be directed towards those who are engaged in sex. [It is] only for those who accept it and who need it. It is not as if every child is engaged in sex at present and the DOH knows it,” Briones earlier said.
She also reiterated that the DepEd will not allow the distribution of condoms to students on a mass scale like distributing flyers or free food in shopping malls.
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