PILA, Laguna, Philippines — An elementary school here has placed this town and province – as well as the Philippines – on Asia's Education and Sustainable Development (ESD) map.
The Labuin Elementary School (LES), along with two others in Malaysia and Myanmar, took centerstage last Nov. 29 for winning the 2017 SEAMEO-Japan Education and Sustainable Development award.
The prestigious international award is conferred by the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization (SEAMEO) and Japan Ministry of Education, Culture, Science and Technology (MEXT) with the cooperation of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)-Asia Pacific Regional Bureau of Education.
The occasion was the 40th SEAMEO-High Officials Meeting (HOM) held in Bangkok, Thailand on Nov. 28-30.
The award recognizes the efforts of schools in the SEAMEO region to implement programs "to improve health and nutrition of students that also transform schools into a healthy learning environment."
SEAMEO is an inter-government treaty organization founded in 1965 to promote cooperation in science, education, and culture among Southeast Asian countries.
An elementary school in Malaysia garnered the first prize in the 2017 SEAMEO-Japan ESD award while another in Myanmar placed second.
Labuin Elementary School received the third prize. A delegation from DepEd-Laguna and LES — composed of Michelle Samia, Eva Marie Cambe, Josilyn Solana, Sol Villanueva, Alma Tomacruz, Bernadette dela Cruz, and Lamberto Peranilo—received the award for the Laguna school.
Pila-LES, situated about 80 kilometers southeast of Manila, is one of five elementary and one high school that served as pilot sites of the School and Home Gardens program launched by SEARCA, DepEd-Laguna, and UP Los Baños in January 2016. In its initial phase, it was also supported by the Asian Development Bank, SEAMEO secretariat, the Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Plant Industry-Economic Gardens, and the local government units of the localities covered by the program.
The school, said SEARCA director Gil Saguiguit Jr., is among the pilot sites assisted by the center and UPLB "to try out the old concept of school gardens with a twist as it focuses on education, nutrition, and poverty alleviation."
Owing to its initial success, the program has been expanded to cover 15 more elementary and three high schools in the five towns and one city.