IN a move to raise farm productivity in Southeast Asia, the Philippine-hosted Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) convened on Thursday and today nine countries to push competency certification for agricultural workers in the region.
SEARCA Director Gil Saguiguit Jr. said developing the competencies of agricultural workers is crucial in raising the productivity of the sector and with this, the center has been tasked to assist in developing competency standards and certification systems for agricultural workers in the region.
He noted there are 450 million people in Southeast Asia still dependent on agriculture for their livelihood.
Saguiguit noted that SEARCA's work is part of a bigger effort by the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization (SEAMEO), its mother organization, to establish a regional and national qualification reference framework and assurance framework to harmonize and internationalize technical vocational education training (TVET) in Southeast Asia.
With experts from Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, Timor-Leste, and Vietnam, the two-day workshop's objective is to determine the state of play in Asean member-states in developing competency standards and certification for agricultural workers, and identify gaps and challenges that need to be addressed.
Competent bodies from Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam gave presentations on their competency certification schemes with the goal of initiating mutual recognition of competency certifications issued by Asean member-states to its agricultural workers.
TESDA Director General Guiling Mamondiong joined Saguiguit to open the international meeting, while Sen. Cynthia Villar, who chairs the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food, set the tone with her keynote message.
Other speakers included Susan Dela Rama, executive director of the TESDA Certifications Office; Akiko Sakamoto of the International Labor Organization; Irene Isaac, Philippine representative to the Asean Qualifications Reference Framework Committee; Hery Sudarmanto, secretary general at Indonesia's Ministry of Manpower; Watcharapong Waraporn, bureau director of the Thailand Professional Qualifications Institute; and Nguyen Hong Minh, director general of Vietnam's Directorate of Vocational Education, among others.