The Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) and the Department of Education (DepEd) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for institutional cooperation on 29 June 2022 with Dr. Glenn B. Gregorio, SEARCA Director, and Dr. Leonor Magtolis Briones, who was the DepEd Secretary at the time, as signatories. They agreed to collaborate on joint research, capacity building activities, and knowledge and information exchange to benefit both learners and educators in the country.
“We acknowledge the important role of DepEd in the country in promoting agriculture among the Filipino youth,” Gregorio said during the ceremonial signing.
Graduate-level researches integrated into the curriculum of basic education was the call to action of Briones during a virtual event commemorating SEARCA’s 55th anniversary.
“I have expressed interest in translating the results of research and findings of our own scientists such that of SEARCA and use them for basic education and for lessons that our children can learn sciences, arts, and the wonders and beauty of our environment,” said Briones.
“Aligned with DepEd’s mandate as a leader in curriculum and instruction, SEARCA prioritizes youth engagement in agricultural and rural development as one of its seven priority areas geared to accelerate transformation through agricultural innovation. Thank you for your endless support to SEARCA in pursuit of our mission to uplift the lives of farming families and communities,” Gregorio said.
DepEd Undersecretary for Administration Alain Del B. Pascua said SEARCA and DepEd “have one common purpose—we want to develop and promote agriculture inside DepEd, and when I say inside DepEd, we hope to conduct a training for teachers and administrative personnel to teach the basics of agriculture and utilize school sites as social laboratories for implementation of agriculture projects and hands-on activities.”
Gregorio affirmed that DepEd’s cooperation with SEARCA is a crucial step to maximize school and human resources as well as expand networks and mutually shared capacities.
As part of the renewed partnership, SEARCA and DepEd are working to scale up the School-plus-Home Gardens Project (S+HGP), a SEARCA initiative that complements DepEd’s Gulayan sa Paaralan (GPP) program.
On 21 July 2022, SEARCA conducted a training-workshop on vegetable production for teachers and staff of local government units in Busuanga, Palawan, Philippines. A total of 46 school heads, GPP coordinators, and agricultural extension workers from Busuanga and Coron were trained by experts from Pilipinas Shell Foundation, Inc. (PSFI), one of SEARCA’s partners, to enhance crop production and vegetable gardening activities to address food and nutrition insecurity and poverty in rural areas. The training-workshop is a collaborative activity of SEARCA, DepEd, Kansas State University, Salvacion National High School, and Regalo ng Kilit Foundation.