MANILA, Philippines – A student should not be deprived of her right to education just because she got pregnant, the National Youth Commission (NYC) said Tuesday.
The NYC made the statement as some educational institutions, particularly private schools run by religious groups, tend to suspend pregnant students “because they are perceived as bad examples to their peers.”
The group also cited a pronouncement by the Department of Education prohibiting the penalizing of students in public schools because of pregnancy.
“We call on private school administrators to follow suit,” NYC commissioner Perci Cendaña said.
According to the NYC, “a school does not have the authority to strip a student of her rights because she got pregnant. Students have equal rights, pregnant or not.”
“To suspend or expel students for being pregnant is to go against the welfare of young women who are likely to face financial difficulties in the future because of reduced economic options and opportunities. By doing so, these schools are making more difficult the already desperate situation that these young women are in,” Cendaña said.
Citing the 2010 National Youth Assessment Study, the NYC said 72% of the youth recognize teen pregnancy as one of the main reasons young girls do not get to finish school. The group said this can be reduced by coming up with “non-discrimination” and “anti-stigma” policies for pregnant teens.
“We are not promoting early pregnancy, what we are advocating is to have an enabling environment for these teens instead of closing doors and cutting their chances for a brighter future,” Cendaña said.
The NYC also called for the passage of the controversial Reproductive Health bill, which seeks to classify contraceptives as essential medicines as one of its provisions.
“With age-appropriate RH education, we can make significant progress in reducing teen pregnancy in the country,” Cendeña explained.