4 Filipinos among honorees of Southeast Asian education ministers council

The Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization (SEAMEO) has conferred an award on outstanding staff members of the organization's specialist institutions based in its member-countries, and among them are four Filipinos.

SEAMEO's 10-member countries are Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam and Myanmar. Education Secretary Leonor Briones represents the Philippines in the council

The conferral of the 2021 SEAMEO Service Award was in time with the 51st SEAMEO Council Conference held virtually for the first time on July 21.

Among the awardees was Gaspar de Chavez of the Philippine government-hosted Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) based in the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB).

In 1996, de Chavez joined SEARCA and has shown dedication to work greatly aligned with the center's goals. His latest design is a pedal-controlled faucet that SEARCA fabricated for the Los Baños community to help curb the spread of Covid-19.

According to SEARCA director Dr. Glenn Gregorio, the SEAMEO Council is the highest policymaking body of SEAMEO, an intergovernmental treaty body founded in 1965 to promote cooperation among Southeast Asian nations in education, science and culture.

Other awardees from Philippine-based SEAMEO specialist institutions were Mary Ann Sison and Rowel Malimban, both university researchers at the SEAMEO Regional Center for Public Health Hospital Administration, Environmental and Occupational Health (Tropmed-Philippines) in Manila, and Bituin Abuel, center nurse at the SEAMEO Regional Center for Educational Innovation and Technology (INNOTECH) in Quezon City.

SEARCA said the award, which is given biennially, recognizes exemplary staff members of SEAMEO units for demonstrating exceptionally high level of achievement in work performance, innovation and creativity, professionalism and commitment that contribute to the success of the organization's mission and goals.

Gregorio, along with Innotech director Dr. Ramon Bacani and Tropmed Philippines director Dr. Vicente Belizario Jr., also participated in the virtual directors meeting held on the same day.

They joined top officials of 23 other SEAMEO centers spread across SEA and 200 other participants from the SEAMEO centers, associate member country, affiliate member and 21 partner organizations, among them United Nations agencies, government organizations, development agencies, universities and enterprises.

The Bangkok-based SEAMEO Secretariat said the participants gathered to share and discuss regional development programs and work plans for improving education, science and culture for the SEA region.

Gregorio said the meeting was also a venue for expanding the developmental programs with new partners and strengthening the existing partnerships.