Have you ever seen students in the campus carrying rag dolls as though they were real babies?
The female students are usually met with faint amusement, but the males, with puzzlement.
This is an exercise that is part of the baby-gas project that students enrolled in HUME 10 (Sexuality in Adolescence) experience.
The first part of the project, dubbed as “baby making,” requires students to make baby-gas, a rag doll filled with three kilos of uncooked rice.
The project then assigns weekly tasks that highlight the different layers of responsibilities attached to parenthood.
On the first week, students research on the cost of baby care. HUME 10 Instructor Katherine Del Rosario said that at this stage, most of the students realize that their allowance is not enough to support a child.
On the second week, the students focus on the socioemotional needs of the baby and the role of the father in raising a child. During the third week, students interview mothers on breastfeeding. Finally, on the fourth week, the students talk to their parents about their experiences in raising them.
By the end of the month, their reflections are compiled into scrapbooks or any other creative form chosen by the students.
“Basically, we want them to experience what it’s like to be a parent while balancing it with their academics. In this way, they can have a glimpse of what the consequences are when they engage in risky behaviors,” said Del Rosario.
Renelle Saguinsin, a BS Forestry student, said that the experience has impressed on her valuable life lessons. “You carry with you everything that you have learned because you have experienced the consequences first-hand.”
The Bigger Picture
In 2016, the United Nations Population Fund reported that the Philippines is the only country in Asia-Pacific where the rate of teen pregnancies rose over the last two decades.
The 2017 National Demographic and Health Survey by the Philippine Statistics Authority found that nine percent of women age 15-19 have begun childbearing while seven percent have had a live birth.
The said survey also revealed that the proportion of teenagers who have begun childbearing rises rapidly with age, from one percent at age 15 to 22 percent at age 19.
Rhea Bailey, who also teaches HUME 10, believes that these reflect eroding cultural and family values. “Our youth tend to get easy and fast access to information where accuracy and credibility of sources can be put in question. There is a need to promote rapport, transparency, and friendships among family members in the early years so that sensitive situations and queries may be addressed by more reliable members of the community.”
Bailey said that the baby-gas project facilitates proper guidance seeking by the students from their parents, teachers, and from medical practitioners.
Baby-gas is a component of HUME 10, a subject under the Social Sciences and Philosophy domain of the Revised General Education Program which is offered by the College of Human Ecology.
HUME 10 is now on hold as the University adjusts courses to conform to changes under the K to 12 program. Its proponents are, however, preparing to implement it again. (John Glen S. Sarol)