Governing Board tracks SEARCA’s performance, approves programs and plans

  • By Leah Lyn D. Domingo
  • 8 October 2020, Thursday

Governing Board tracks SEARCA’s performance, approves programs and plans

The Governing Board (GB) of the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) convened for the first time in a virtual meeting on 28 September 2020.

The GB is the highest policymaking body of SEARCA composed of representatives from the 11 member countries of the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization (SEAMEO). The GB defines the general policy guidelines for the Center in matters of staff and scholar recruitment, funding and business procedures, use of the Center’s facilities, and the establishment of priorities for graduate education, training, and research.

The 68th SEARCA GB Meeting was chaired by Assoc. Prof. Dr. Chew Fook Tim, Country Representative of Singapore to the SEARCA GB.

Other GB members in attendance were country representatives from eight other countries, namely: Mr. Norjemee Jenek, IBTE Satellite Principal, Institute of Brunei Technical Education (IBTE), Brunei Darussalam; Prof. Dr. Ocky Karna Radjasa, Director of Research and Community Services and Deputy for Strengthening Research and Development, Ministry of Research and Technology, Indonesia; Dr. Somphong Chanthavong, Acting Dean, Faculty of Agriculture and Environment, Savannakhet University, Lao PDR; Prof. Dato' Dr. Zulkifli Idrus, Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research and Innovation), Universiti Putra Malaysia, Malaysia; Dr. Ye Tint Tun, Director General, Department of Agricultural Research, Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation, Myanmar; Dr. Fernando C. Sanchez, Jr., Chancellor, University of the Philippines Los Baños, Philippines; Assoc. Prof. Dr. Sutkhet Nakasathien, Dean, Faculty of Agriculture, Kasetsart University, Thailand; and Dr. Acacio Cardoso Amaral, President, Institute of Polytechnic of Betano, Timor-Leste.

Also present were Dr. Ethel Agnes P. Valenzuela, SEAMEO Secretariat Director; and Dr. Glenn B. Gregorio, SEARCA Director, as GB ex-officio members; as well as Mr. Joselito G. Florendo, SEARCA Deputy Director for Administration who also chairs the SEARCA GB Secretariat, along with key program and unit heads, staff, and consultants.

In a message delivered by Philippine Department of Education (DepEd) Undersecretary Jesus Lorenzo Ruiz Mateo, Education Secretary Leonor Magtolis-Briones congratulated SEARCA for pushing through with the meeting despite the limitations of the pandemic and technology. DepEd is SEARCA’s focal agency in the Philippines.

Dr. Briones said the missions of SEARCA and DepEd are aligned toward promoting equitable and inclusive education for the Filipino learners. She thanked SEARCA for supporting its programs and looks forward for more years of partnerships.

The GB annually reviews and evaluates SEARCA and its operations and, on the basis of such actions, suggests necessary modifications. This year the GB reviewed and confirmed all agreements entered into by SEARCA with various institutions and organizations. The Board also reviewed SEARCA’s accomplishments, including initiatives in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and evaluated the status of its human and financial resources in fiscal year 2019/2020.

Dr. Gregorio reiterated that SEARCA has continued its operations and maintained a strong financial position despite the limitations brought by the pandemic.

Dr. Ethel Agnes P. Valenzuela, SEAMEO Secretariat Director, said she admired SEARCA for its accomplishments despite the pandemic, citing the SEARCA Online Learning and Virtual Engagement (SOLVE) webinars in particular. She also expressed appreciation for SEARCA’s efforts to promote and develop the love for agriculture among children.  

In addition to the discussion on SEARCA’s performance in the immediate past fiscal year, the GB were also apprised of the gains during the years covered by the Center’s 10th Five-Year Plan (2014-2019), which had an extension year that ended in June 2020.

Moreover, the GB approved the general directions and planned activities of the Center’s core programs and support units as well as proposals related to organizational development and administration.

Dr. Gregorio thanked the GB for approving all of SEARCA’s plans and proposals and affirmed that their support it gives the SEARCA team “more encouragement to pursue a bigger, better, and smarter normal.” 

He also thanked UPLB for its support and continuing partnership with SEARCA as its host institution, as well as DepEd for its continuing support to SEARCA and its commitment in promoting agriculture, especially among the youth.