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Public Sex Education in the Philippines

leamirella's picture

Proposing  a Lesson Plan For Sex Education in the Philippines

  1. Background Information:

This project looks towards creating a lesson plan for teachers of public high schools in the Philippines. The country, a bedrock of Catholicism, has previously prevented measures to implement sex education in the country because of religious concerns. (1) The main argument behind this resistance to sex education is the idea that this type of education will lead to pre-marital sex – an act that is frowned upon within the context of the church. Thus, the sex education lesson plan that I will propose will emphasize creating a middle ground between informing the students about the subject but will also take into consideration their religious backgrounds and values. I will aim my lesson plans towards 3rd year high school students who will, presumably, have only ever looked at the reproductive system in terms of biology.

Sex education in the country right now is almost non-existent. A UN-backed program to provide education to 80 elementary and 79 public high schools around the nation was met with opposition from the Catholic Church. Thus, my intent is to build from here and create a lesson plan that the church could possibly approve of. My lesson plan will take part in three parts. First, I will look at the reproduction system from a purely scientific point of view. I will do a quick review session to ensure that the students know about the reproductive system working on the assumption that they have already covered it in their science curriculum. I will keep this session firmly grounded in biology. Second, I will then look at contraception with an emphasis on keeping yourself healthy and lastly, I will have a look at cementing student values. I am hoping that the third section of the plan will be the part that ties all of the information together and then challenges the students to really think about their own values and their thoughts on the matter. This is the most critical section of my lesson plan because it is here where I will attempt to show the Catholic church that sex education is not about sex, rather, it is about “the science of reproduction, physical care and hygiene, correct values and the norms of intrapersonal relations to avoid pre-marital sex and teenage pregnancy”. (2) These are the criteria that I am working to address in my lesson plan.

Lastly, I have also given thought to the resources that the students will have. Given that my target audience are public schools students, it is unlikely that they will have more that a chalkboard and their own notebooks and pens to use. Therefore, all of my sessions are planned around using a limited amount of resources. Additionally, the three sessions are focused on group discussion, which will help alleviate the discomfort of the students at the topic. I have purposely not included any time suggestions as the discussions can be as open as need be and also, the lesson plans can be adjusted to fit each school’s class time.


Resources Used:
(1) Guiterrez, Jason. "Sex Education Debate Heats Up In Philippines." 22 June 2010. Web. 28 Oct. 2011. <>.

(2) Department of Education. Sex Education Is Not About Sex. Http:// Department Of Education, 6 June 2010. Web. <>.

American Social Health Association. Web. 28 Oct. 2011. <>

"Science - Reproduction and Cloning". Web. 28 Oct. 2011. <>

"Abstinence". Planned Parenthood. Web. 28 Oct. 2011. <>

Lesson Plans.pdf87.08 KB


leamirella's picture

Thanks for the comment Kaye!

I just wanted to respond to a number of the points that you made.

1. Now that I've had more time to think about it, I'm not quite sure that I really have "met the church halfway". Though I am coming at this with maybe a better background in terms of really understanding the culture, I am still, in many ways, an "outsider". Maybe less so than the UN but this is still something that I am becoming more and more aware of.

2. I could not actually find the UN-backed program, just mentions of it and the reactions of the general public to it. I attributed those negative reactions to the fact that perhaps the UN was not completely thorough in fully understanding the social context and thus, was not able to meet the actual needs of the society that they were attempting to service. (Though this is hypothetical)

3. I really like your point about the anonymous questions. I hadn't actually considered this though I do think it is very pertinent. Firstly, your comment about where they would go if they felt uncomfortable. Given the existing lack of resources as it is, I'm not quite sure that I can fully answer your question though I can say that the lack of supervision would be quite worrying. Additionally, this lack of resources would also result in the impossibility of hiring a teacher's assistant though you do make a valid point about comfort levels etc. The only thing that I could propose is that the classes be taught collaboratively and it another teacher who is unfamiliar with the class could potentially come in and address uncomfortable questions and perhaps act as a mediator.

4. Your point about gender-segregated classes is intriguing. Though in this course, we have aimed to break down the binary between male and female, I feel that in a practical sense, this may be a good idea. However, this boils down to resources again. The typical class size in public schools in the Philippines is already on the large end of the scale. Thus, I do not feel as though it would be feasible to break them down even more. This brings up the idea though, of a student's comfort level of being taught such sensitive material with members of the opposite gender in the same room. Interesting point but I really don't think I have a right answer.

Kaye's picture

meeting the church half-way*

Having been raised Catholic and attended parochial schools in the 60s, I can appreciate the need for more comprehensive sex education, as well as the difficulty in designing one that is respectful of the Church's teachings.  Although views on sex for practicing Catholics in the US have liberalized since then, my understanding is that the official position of the Church is that all sex should be open to the possibility of conception, and that abstinence and the rhythm method are the only sanctioned strategies to control one's fertility.  If this is accurate, I wonder if even the term “contraception” is problematic?  You mention that the UN-backed sex ed program was met with strong resistance by the Catholic Church in the Philippines.  Have you had a chance to look at how that program framed the topics?

I do think you've created a thoughtful, informative, and sensitive 3-unit curriculum and I'd be interested to know how Philippino/a Catholics perceive it.  Perhaps you could share it with Theresa Tensuan, who had been the coordinator of Haverford's Gen/Sex program for many years.  She is currently the Dean of Multicultural Affairs at HC and it would be easy to set up a meeting with her.  I like how you've created an educational "sandwich" around the health aspects of contraception by beginning with what they've already learned in science classes and capping it with their own values.  Also, including options for "anonymous questions" is an excellent way to help students bring forward their own concerns so that they can be addressed.  However, I wonder if students would feel hesitant to turn in these questions to their teacher, who might be able to identify who wrote what.  And, would the teachers feel comfortable (and able to) respond to more personal questions?  Might a specially trained assistant be helpful in collecting the questions and facilitating the discussions?

This is a valuable project and I encourage you to think through more of the specifics if you plan to move this forward.  You mention that they can "leave the conversation at any time," and I wonder "where will they go and who will supervise them?"  Do you imagine that these classes would be gender-segregated?  You also refer to "abnormal discharge" and "any abnormality in their genitalia," which highlights the need to address the larger question that consumes many teens:  "What is normal?"  Don't forget that HPV and Herpes can be transmitted by skin-to-skin contact, so condoms are not ideal barriers for those STI's.  Finally, there are a few missing words in your proposal, which another read-through would reveal.  However, there is one edit that you need to make:  "stress that any NO crude jokes or inappropriate comments will be tolerated."

*a play on the title of Barad's book, Meeting the Universe Halfway.