Dr. Khampheui Phantachone, Vice Governor of Savannakhet Province in Lao PDR, expressed his deep appreciation and wholehearted commendation to SEARCA for immediately responding to Savannakhet University's request for assistance in capacity-building and curriculum development. He was particularly happy to receive the project inception report handed over to him by the Savannakhet University Institutional Development Assistance (SKU-IDA) Project Team composed of Dr. Sitha Khemmarath, SKU Vice President, Dr. Oscar B. Zamora, Dean of Graduate School, University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) and one of SEARCA's institutional development experts, and Dr. Editha C. Cedicol, Manager of SEARCA's Graduate Scholarship Department and co-coordinator of the SKU-IDA Project during the courtesy call on the Vice Governor on 2 August 2011.
Dr. Phantachone said that it was only in February this year when the group from SKU, SEARCA, and UPLB visited his office to inform him about the proposed project, and that the recent inception meeting at SKU signals the seriousness and firm commitment of SEARCA and its partner, UPLB, in pursuing this initiative. He pledged to endorse the project to possible donors.
Dr. Zamora briefed Dr. Phantachone about the project. He said that the project is for three years and its main components are (1) human resource development and capacity-building through scholarships for academic bridging, graduate study, and short-term training to strengthen teaching and research capabilities as well as administrative skills; (2) curriculum development; and (3) enhancement of support systems.
Dr. Khemmarathalso reported to Dr. Phantachone that aside from the presentation of the project's inception report, Dr. Zamora and Dr. Cedicol also met with the deans and faculty members of SKU to discuss some findings of the review of the existing agriculture curriculum;they also interviewed the applicants for the academic bridging and graduate scholarships on 1-2 August 2011.Dr. Khemmarath added that SEARCA played an important role to jumpstart the project. He emphasized that the provincial and national government's strong endorsement of the project proposal to funding agencies is critical in securing financial support for the full implementation of the 3-year project.