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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Home study for Baguio’s pregnant teeners

Below is an article about curative measures undertaken in Baguio re: concerns on teenage pregnancies. This is truly commendable. However, I must stress that advocacy for preventive measures such as Adolescent Reproductive Health Education should be strengthened so that it will be included in every High School Curricula, just like in Quezon City, thus avoiding unwanted pregnancies among teenagers.

Home study for Baguio’s pregnant teeners
Desiree Caluza
Northern Luzon Bureau
First Posted 06:08:00 03/11/2008

BAGUIO CITY—Pregnant teenagers can still finish high school under a home study program offered by a public school here.

The Baguio City National High School (BCNHS), one of the best performing public high schools in the Cordillera Administrative Region, has been conducting the program since 2003 when it was chosen by the Department of Education as pilot school, said its medical officer, Dr. Jocelyn de Jesus.

De Jesus, however, clarified that the school did not condone teenage pregnancy through the program. “What we are concerned about is the health and welfare of the pregnant student. It should not even be an issue of morality. We do not care anymore what others say.”

The official spoke in a press forum on the celebration of Women’s Month on Wednesday.

Students who get pregnant at an early age should not be condemned but should be educated on the risks of early pregnancy, De Jesus said. She said the BCNHS had intensified the education on reproductive health and sex as part of the school curriculum.

“Sometimes, we ask ourselves if we are at fault. After some serious evaluation, we think that we do not fall short of educating our children,” she said.

Last year, the BCNHS reported nine cases of teenage pregnancy. The youngest mother, who was 13, was a product of arranged marriage, De Jesus said. “This was a case of culture, so all we could do was support her.”

She said pregnant students should be prevented from dropping out of school by providing the home study program. Sometimes, they get discriminated against but have the moral support of peers and teachers, she said.

Under the program, a student could file for maternity leave for a week to one month to rest before or after her delivery. She still gets to study at home when a teacher sends her the module to cope with the lessons taken up in class.

The school also provides counseling to the students.

Compared to private schools, public high schools have been more accommodating to teenage pregnant students, according to De Jesus.

Councilor Betty Lourdes Tabanda, chair of the city council’s committee on women and children, said some private schools would expel pregnant high school students because of issues on morality. “Some private Catholic schools expel pregnant students for violating school regulations. But these schools now are re-examining this policy because views on pregnant women are changing already,” she said.