Unwanted teen pregnancies continue to be a problem in the Philippines, but instead of properly implementing the Reproductive Health Law, some officials are still proposing what some would describe as archaic solutions.
Yesterday, the head of the country’s National Youth Commission (NYC) suggested that boys and girls should be in separate classrooms from Grades 7 to 12 to curb the rising cases of teen pregnancies and HIV.
“A lot of grade school students already have girlfriends and boyfriends because they are classmates. If they have an activity that they need to finish after school, they do it in their houses and the sex happens there. They could become teenage mothers,” NYC Chairperson Ryan Enriquez told ABS-CBN News.
According to the Commission on Population (POPCOM), nearly 200,000 Filipino women aged 15-19 years old get pregnant each year. In 2017, the Philippines had a population of 104.9 million.
HIV is also a huge concern. In 2018, as many as 32 people were diagnosed with HIV daily, Rappler reported, citing the Philippine National AIDS Council.
While Enriquez also urged for proper sex education in schools, he was adamant about his segregation idea.
“They wouldn't be assigned together for projects, there wouldn't need to be a reason to stay over,” he said.
Under this proposed set-up, students can still interact with the opposite sex around campus, but won’t be assigned to the same classes. Enriquez said this will still help.
“If you're curious and you have a classmate who's a boy, the temptation is there,” Enriquez said.
Netizens were quick to criticise the proposal.
"Separation of male and female students means double the facilities, we already lack enough classrooms,” said @idunnowhouare.
"Educate them instead of isolating them with (sic) one another. Girls and boys can learn things together other than sex,” said @choy_loves.
“For me, sex education is a key for this. Students from high school to college are open-minded,” said @rvnclwhouse.
Philippine lawmakers finally passed the controversial Reproductive Health Bill, which mandates sex education, in 2012, but the law is still not implemented fully.