The Philippine government was forced to abandon a controversial sex education program for high school students after the country's powerful Roman Catholic Church expressed opposition to it, a Filipino official said Monday.
Education Assistant Secretary Vilma Labrador said the Department of Education has ordered an immediate suspension of the distribution of the module, after the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) objected to its content.
So far public high schools in only two areas in Metro Manila had received the modules as "pilot" areas in the sex education program, said the official.
Opponents to the program said public school system was promoting premarital sex with its teachings about condoms and other contraceptives through the module. But officials of the department of education said the goal of the program is to discourage, rather than encourage, the sexual act among unmarried young people.
Angelita Aguirre, head of Human Life International, a group belonging to the CBCP's Episcopal Commission on Family and Life, said the inclusion of sex education in the high schools is " disturbing".
The teaching module also showed that population education would be included in such subjects as health, English, Filipino, Araling Panlipunan, science and even technology and livelihood education.
The module provides information and services to adolescents to help them understand their sexuality and protect them from unwanted pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases, and the subsequent risk of infertility, said education officials.
But the church officials said module can create the wrong impression and encourage teenagers to try premarital sex, adding that sex education is better left to the parents.
The Catholic Church in the Philippines is strongly opposed to the use of contraceptives and other birth control means.