SEARCA conducts M&E for the School Edible Landscaping for Entrepreneurship (SEL4E) Project in Rizal, Philippines

  • By Pauline Gonzales
  • 5 June 2024

Rizal, Philippines - The Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) conducted a monitoring and evaluation (M&E) activity for the School Edible Landscaping for Entrepreneurship (SEL4E) Project in Rizal province on 21–24 May 2024.

Eleven schools were visited by a SEARCA delegation composed of staff from the Education and Collective Learning Department-Training for Development Unit (ECLD-T4DU) and the Research and Thought Leadership Department (RTLD). Educators and officers from the participating schools have been part of two training activities in August 2023 and January 2024 about food security, sustainable agriculture, school gardening, and partnership-building, among others.

SEARCA team and school staff involved in the SEL4E Project in Rizal, Philippines.SEARCA team and school staff involved in the SEL4E Project in Rizal, Philippines.

The M&E activity conducted by the SEARCA aimed to evaluate the transfer and application of training through the participants' re-entry action plans, monitor project implementation progress, and gather project updates from the schools. Among the post-training expectations from the participants were the establishment or improvement of their respective school gardens, re-echoing of their learnings to the school and community stakeholders, and potential integration of SEL4E concepts and principles into their lessons for the learners.

Prior to the capacity-building activities, SEARCA conducted a scoping activity in early 2023, which provided the basis for the M&E process of the 11 schools in seven municipalities in the province. The M&E tool for the School-plus-Home Garden Cum Biodiversity Enhancement Enterprise (SHGBEE) Project and SEL4E comprises various indicators and scoring criteria across different categories, providing a comprehensive assessment framework for project evaluation.

Interviews and assessments were conducted in the pilot schools in Rizal province: Baras Elementary School (BES) and Baras National High School (BNHS) in Baras; Tanay-Sampaloc Integrated National High School (TSINHS) and Sampaloc Elementary School (SES) in Tanay; Tuna-Balibago High School Annex (TBHSA) in Cardona; Bagumbong Elementary School (BES) in Jala-jala; Malaya Elementary School (MES) and Virgilio B. Melendrez Memorial Elementary School (VBMMES) in Pililla; Tomas Claudio Memorial Elementary School (TCMES) and San Guillermo Elementary School (SGES) in Morong; and Pantay Integrated National High School (PlNHS) in Teresa.

Leading the M&E activity from SEARCA were Mr. Sonny Pasiona, program specialist, and Ms. Rachelle Anne Mangaya, program associate, both of ECLD-T4DU; and Ms. Anna Gale Vallez, program specialist, and Ms. Pauline Gonzales, project associate, both of RTLD. They were assisted by Mr. Christian Anabo; Gulayan sa Paaralan Program (GPP) Division coordinator and Mr. John Alexis Cruz; GPP alternate focal person from the Department of Education – Schools Division Office of Rizal (DepEd Rizal), along with Mr. Antonio L. Flores II, SEL4E technical coordinator.

SEL4E is an extension of SEARCA's prior project, "A Participatory Action Research on School and Community-based Food and Nutrition Program for Literacy, Poverty Reduction, and Sustainable Development" (School-plus-Home Gardens Project or S+HGP), piloted in Laguna in 2016–17. The current project seeks to expand the SEL4E model through multistakeholder participation in improving the nutrition and health of children and their families. Funding for the project is provided by SEARCA and Synergy Group Operations Inc. (SGOI), with additional support from DepEd Rizal and the Pilipinas Shell Foundation Inc. (PSFI). This expanded scope aims to produce a cadre of technical staff capable of sustaining and scaling up the SEL4E project.