DepEd-Rizal stakeholders complete training on school edible landscaping for entrepreneurship

  • By Sonny Pasiona
  • 24 August 2023

Educators and officers from 11 schools and the division office of the Philippine Department of Education-Rizal have completed the Training on School Edible Landscaping for Entrepreneurship (SEL4E) held via Zoom and onsite at Los Baños, Laguna and Pililla, Rizal in the Philippines on 7–11 August 2023.

DepEd-Rizal stakeholders complete training on school edible landscaping for entrepreneurship

The SEL4E training aimed to build the capacities of the 36 participants as channels of knowledge and values formation in schools and their communities. Led by SEARCA's Training for Development Unit under the Education and Collective Learning Department, the training conducted online sessions that cover the concepts and intersections of school gardens in nutrition, education, and entrepreneurship. Its onsite sessions, on the other hand, focused on edible landscaping and organic agriculture.

Lectures on key concepts of SEL4E

The eight-session training started off with the sharing of initiatives on and situation analysis of school gardens facilitated by Ms. Carmen Nyhria Rogel, SEARCA's technical coordinator. The session looked into the challenges and solutions of the participating schools in establishing and managing school gardens.

Dr. Leila Africa of the University of the Philippines Institute of Human Nutrition and Food (UPLB-IHNF) led the discussion during the second session. She presented the nutrition status among school children and adolescents in the Philippines and an analysis of the nutritional assessment tools and methods used for school-based feeding programs.

DepEd-Rizal stakeholders complete training on school edible landscaping for entrepreneurship

The third and fourth sessions covered concepts and applications essential for integrating school gardens into education and entrepreneurship. Ms. Glenda Aruejo of DepEd Laguna presented some examples of how to integrate school gardening into subjects related to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Meanwhile, UPLB Assistant Professor Rei Chino Pua talked about livelihood and entrepreneurship, including a personal entrepreneurship competency exercise that the participants can adopt for their students.

"This training is not only for nurturing the students whom we are handling, but this also opens the minds of the teachers who often say that it is hard to earn money," said Ms. Alegria Belga, participant and head teacher from Tanay-Sampaloc Integrated National High School. "If we are going to look after our surroundings, we will always find ways to get food," she continued.

Ms. Soledad Villanueva of DepEd Laguna capped off the online lecture series as she shared her experiences on partnership-building and scaling up of SEL4E using cases from SEARCA's School-plus-Home Gardens Project (S+HGP) launched in Laguna in 2016.

Edible landscaping and organic agriculture in action

For the onsite sessions, the participants first visited the UPLB campus where a team of experts from the UPLB Edible Landscaping Team briefed the participants about the fundamentals, processes, and applications of edible landscaping.

They then visited SEARCA where they were welcomed by Center Director Dr. Glenn Gregorio, and other key officials and staff. Books and other knowledge products from the Center's Knowledge Shop were handed over to the school representatives. They were also given a tour of the SEARCA Hub for Agriculture and Rural Innovation for the Next Generation (SHARING) and other facilities at SEARCA.

DepEd-Rizal stakeholders complete training on school edible landscaping for entrepreneurship

The participants were then given a lecture with a hands-on activity in organic agriculture, which was facilitated by the technical staff of the Pilipinas Shell Foundation, Inc. (PSFI).

In a testimonial, Mr. Almario San Felipe of Tomas Claudio Memorial Elementary School shared how children nowadays are fixated on modern technology and thus, it is a challenge for teachers to open their students' minds toward organic agriculture. "Let us take back home today all the learnings we had about SEL4E," Mr. San Felipe urged his fellow participants.

In the final session, the trainees set their goals and re-entry action plans (REAPs) to scale up their school garden initiatives. Among the REAP proposals were to conduct capability-building activities for teachers, to integrate SEL4E concepts into the educational curricula, and to institutionalize working committees that shall lead the implementation and monitoring of school-based SEL4E projects.

A multistakeholder project

The week-long training was the first component of the SEL4E Project, which intends to improve the nutrition and health of children and their families in Rizal province, Philippines through multistakeholder participation.

"We support this project in Rizal Province to help schools and the local community within the scope of the SEL4E Program," stated Capt. Krishna Mundath, director of SynergyGroup Operations Inc. (SGOI) Philippines. "This project is deeply aligned with Synergy Marine Group's aspiration toward one of its goals—zero hunger," Capt. Mundath further said.

The SEL4E project is being carried out by SEARCA and SGOI in collaboration with PSFI, DepEd Rizal, and the provincial government of Rizal. The project's next component is home gardening, which includes scoping, capacity building, and strengthening of SEL4E protocols to sustain and scale up the project.

"We thank all the stakeholders involved in the training and the whole project," shared Dr. Nur Azura Adam, deputy director for programs of SEARCA. "SEL4E is an example of SEARCA's model of bridging the academe-industry-government sectors to help transform the agriculture sector," she added.

DepEd-Rizal stakeholders complete training on school edible landscaping for entrepreneurship