Comprehensive gender and health education for BARMM youth

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On February 24, almost two weeks ago, the Population Commission (Popcom), in particular its Interim Office in Region 12 (Soccsksargen) and Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), virtually launched the Global Youth Health and Gender Education (Cghey) program. educational modules aimed at Moro teachers of primary and secondary school students at BARMM.

I learned that it took three long and arduous years for the 12 authors (three Popcom staff and four female and five male Muslim religious leaders) to write the 152-page Cghey which includes five core modules on critical development. of the adolescent, in particular 1) anatomy and physiology with topics on human anatomy, stages of life, puberty, knowledge of fertility and the onset of pregnancy; 2) gender and development, which covers GAD (gender and development) concepts, gender equality and equity, marriage and emerging gender issues; 3) health and nutrition, which includes a healthy lifestyle, sexually transmitted infections and human immunodeficiency syndrome and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome; 4) social relations with subjects on universal human rights, the importance of researching knowledge and environmental influence; and 5) spiritual responsibilities, which deal with the Islamic concept of creation and purification.

Cghey’s authors creatively incorporated international and local scientific facts, laws, policies, and programs into their interactive teaching methods and exercises. They stated that the difficult part of writing these modules was finding the appropriate Arabic verses from the Qur’an and hadiths (“narration of the words, deeds or approvals of the Prophet Muhammad”) which would be incorporated into the key messages of the various lessons.

The idea to make the Cghey arose from the 2015 fatwa (legal opinion) titled “The Model Family in Islam” which was issued by Mufti HE Abuhuraira Udasan of BARMM Regional Dar-al-ifta, the Advisory Board Islamic. The fatwa was formulated with Muslim religious scholars and with the support of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and Popcom. It was written in English and Arabic, and it used the appropriate verses from the Quran and hadiths. He stressed the importance of marriage and the “harmonious, peaceful life and mutual affection” of a couple and the essential role of pre-marriage counseling. The fatwa also included issues of early marriage, forced marriage and gender-based violence. He recommended that in order to protect the “five necessities (religion, life, intellect, offspring and wealth), a program for Cghey should be placed in the curricula of public and private educational institutions, with the concern of” intellectual receptivity of the student at every stage of their studies. The fatwa has been verified by Sharia law and scientific experts from the International Islamic Center for Population Studies and Research at Al-Azhar University and approved by the Mufti of the Arab Republic of Egypt.

The inclusion in the fatwa of early and forced marriage and gender-based violence is a recognition that these are important issues in the region, and the provision of comprehensive gender and health education to students. is the right direction for their protection and development. According to Dr Irma Ardiana of the National Population and Family Planning Council of Indonesia, a Popcom partner institution under UNFPA’s South-South and Triangular Cooperation Program, and who joined the virtual launch of Cghey, “Investing in the sexual and reproductive health of young people is very crucial because they are the parents of tomorrow. and that the SRH decisions they make today will affect the health of their communities and countries for years to come.

The launch of Cghey was indeed very timely, according to Popcom Executive Director and Undersecretary Dr Juan Antonio Perez 3rd, “as the country faces challenges brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic, where unwanted pregnancies , including teenage pregnancies, are on the increase “.

Popcom’s recent press release showed alarming statistics on teenage pregnancy. The Philippine Statistics Authority’s 2019 vital statistics figures revealed that births to girls aged 15 and under increased by seven percent from 2018. Girls because 1 in 10 pregnancies in the country occur in teenage girls. In 2019, 2,411 very young girls aged 10 to 14 gave birth, or nearly seven each day. This figure was three times higher than in 2000, when only 755 of the same segment of the population had given birth. Overall, the number of adolescent girls who gave birth in 2019 rose to 62,510, which is slightly higher than the 62,341 minors in 2018.

What are the next steps for Cghey? Anisa Taha, Vice President of the National Council of Women of Noorus Salam and one of the module editors, said, “The Cghey Modules are not only intended for schools, but they can be used as reference material for sermons. in mosques, for our radio programs and for our NGOs work in communities.

According to Maria Fe Esmundo, Popcom Region 12 coordinator for Cghey, there are plans to integrate the Cghey modules into the fifth to ninth grade classes of the Arabic Language and Islamic Education (Alive) program in public schools in the region. . Since 2004, the Ministry of Education has installed the Alive program in public schools with Moro students to teach them the Arabic language so that they can read their Quran, which is written in Arabic, and other documents. I have no doubt that the integration of Cghey would enrich and energize the Alive program.

However, there are still many institutional and administrative arrangements, including teacher training, which must be worked out before the planned integration of Cghey into the Alive program can take place. And in this period of the Covid-19 pandemic where there are a lot of problems concerning the education of young people at home, I think it will take another two or three years for this integration to take place. In the meantime, preparatory activities for possible integration can begin, and Cghey’s key messages can be conveyed through social media, radio and other means of reaching young people.

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