New normal for DAAD-SEARCA scholars during the Project Development for Knowledge Transfer 2020 at Leipzig University

  • 25 September 2020

LOS BAÑOS, Laguna – Two DAAD-SEARCA scholars participated in the first phase of the Summer School on Project Development for Knowledge Transfer 2020 from 31 August to 12 September 2020 organized by the International Small Enterprise Promotion and Training (SEPT) Program of Leipzig University in Germany. Ms. Edchelle Flores from the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) and Mr. Pengly Koun from Kasetsart University (KU) were selected to join 19 other participants from 13 different countries in Africa. Edchelle is currently taking her MS in Extension Education while Pengly is studying MS Agricultural Resources under the DAAD In-Country/In-Region Scholarship Programme managed by SEARCA.

The Project Development for Knowledge Transfer 2020 was funded by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) through the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). It aims to train participants in project development, teaching, and research. The activity focuses on four key areas, namely: (1) Participatory Teaching Methods; (2) Academic Writing and Research Project Development; (3) Innovation Management; and (4) Entrepreneurship Promotion.

The first phase, which was conducted online because of the pandemic, covered topics on innovation management and entrepreneurship promotion. It included input sessions, a working phase, and self-study. The participants were also divided into groups with an assigned coach who also served as lecturers during the input sessions. For their project ideas, Edchelle aims to set up a cooperative for each of the 50 Landslide Early Warning Committees (LEWCs) in the Philippines to fund a sustainable landslide early warning system in selected upland communities at risk of deep-seated landslides. On the other hand, Pengly aims to build a networking platform for home gardeners and smallholder farmers in urban areas to supply safe and nutrient-rich vegetables for city dwellers. The second phase of the summer school is scheduled in September 2021 at Leipzig, Germany once conditions have improved.

New Normal for DAAD-SEARCA scholars during the Project Development for Knowledge Transfer 2020 at Leipzig University

Pengly said that the Summer School provided him with an insightful experience and helped him build a perspective that views research in a more in-depth and systematic approach. Edchelle, on the other hand, was very satisfied with the experience as it helped her improve her project idea through the personal mentoring during the coaching sessions. She now looks forward to implementing her project.

Both scholars, who are from Southeast Asia, had to adjust to the time difference as the activities ended at night. DAAD supported the scholars during the Summer School by providing internet allowance, recording the input sessions for those with intermittent online connection, limiting late night sessions and having optional socialization activities in consideration of the different time zones.

The pandemic has indeed affected scholars such as Pengly and Edchelle just like with other graduate students all over the world. It has changed the way they study and communicate with their professors and classmates. Pengly recounts that before the pandemic, he can conveniently study in a classroom and meet with his professors. However, everything has been switched with a computer screen. Pengly copes with this sudden change through acceptance and learning the new normal one step at a time. For Edchelle, the pandemic greatly affected her research. She was supposed to gather her qualitative data in Iloilo. However, the pandemic pushed her to temporarily pause her academic activities and scholarship and resume it in January 2021. Currently, Edchelle is preparing for her written and oral comprehensive examinations and hopefully conduct her data gathering once conditions have improved.

The DAAD In-Country/In-Region Scholarship Programme was offered in 2018 for development-related Master or Doctoral studies of individuals who plan to pursue a career in teaching and/or research at a higher education institution in their home region or in their home country. Just like Edchelle and Pengly, recipients of the DAAD-SEARCA scholarship are given the opportunity to participate in activities organized by German institutions through the support of DAAD. With the onset of the pandemic that affected scholars everywhere, DAAD and SEARCA have placed measures to address the challenges faced by students such as modifying the conduct of activities as well as providing an option to temporarily pause their studies. More information about the DAAD-SEARCA Scholarship is available on the website.