SEARCA recently awarded a full MS scholarship and four Academic Bridging Program scholarships to young faculty members of the Savannakhet University (SKU) in Savannakhet Province, Lao PDR to study at the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) starting second semester of school year 2011/2011. The scholarships are part of the capacity-building component of the SKU Institutional Development Assistance (SKU-IDA) project implemented by SEARCA in collaboration with UPLB and SKU.
Ms. Othevy Vongmany, assistant lecturer and faculty coordinator of SKU's Faculty of Agriculture and Environment, was awarded the SEARCA scholarship to pursue a master of environmental science degree under UPLB's School of Environmental Science and Management.
Meanwhile, SEARCA's Academic Bridging Program scholarship will enable Mr. Xaygnaket Khouanchay, Ms. Somphonesavanh Sumano, Ms. Vinithsay Vongsenkeo, and Mr. Nounsisavad Sombounsack to complete a one-semester, non-degree program in their respective fields of interest from November 2011 to April 2012. The academic bridging program is considered as a preparatory program for a master's degree.
SKU is a newly established university that is mandated to respond to the human resource development needs of Savannakhet Province as well theneighboring Khammouane and Bolikhamxay provinces. With this challenge, Dr. Sitha Khemmarath, SKU Vice President for Academic Affairs and concurrently Lao PDR's representative to the SEARCA Governing Board, sought the assistance of SEARCA and UPLB; hence the SKU-IDA project was conceived.
The three-year SKU-IDA project has the following main components: (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.
Since 1969, SEARCA has been assisting the member countries of the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization (SEAMEO), including Lao PDR, in developing high quality human resources in agriculture and related fields. Prior to the SKU-IDA project, SEARCA has awarded a total of 34 scholarship grants to Laotians to pursue graduate studies in agriculture and related fields, and 7 scholarship grants to undergo the academic bridging program.