DepEd cites SEARCA for support to deliver quality basic education

The Department of Education (DepEd) recognized the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) as one of its dedicated partners during the Partners' Appreciation and Recognition held at the Government Service Insurance System Financial Center last February 20.

SEARCA was cited for its steadfast support and significant contribution to DepEd's mission of providing quality basic education to Filipino learn. This recognition stemmed from SEARCA's implementation of the School-Plus-Home Gardens Program (S+HGP), which not only enhanced schools' feeding programs but also integrated climate-smart agriculture concepts into the lesson plans of Grade 4 and 7 teachers. These efforts aim to develop agricultural strategies that promote sustainable food security in the face of climate change challenges.

SEARCA Center Director Dr. Glenn Gregorio accepted the appreciation plaque from Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Zimmerman Duterte on SEARCA's behalf.

The DepEd Secretary represents the Philippines in the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization (SEAMEO), SEARCA's mother organization. SEARCA is hosted by the Philippine government and DepEd is its focal agency.

The S+HGP piloted in Laguna used school gardens as practical learning tools to enrich the nutrition, education, and economic well-being of students. The program also expanded the connection between gardening and feeding by facilitating the creation of food gardens in the homes of school children. Gregorio said the S+HGP model was successfully adopted by more than a hundred schools, and continuously spread among elementary and secondary schools.

SEARCA and DepEd have since scaled out S+HGP to Rizal Province with entrepreneurship infused in the original model as well as to Busuanga, Palawan with the added dimension of biodiversity enhancement and enterprise.

"As in the original model, training courses—but now in blended mode—have been conducted to educate principals and teachers as well as facilitate knowledge sharing on the establishment of school and home gardens and integrate the key concepts of agriculture and food in lesson plans or school curricula," Gregorio said.

In her message, Duterte expressed gratitude to their partners for helping provide Filipino teachers with a range of skills needed to deliver suitable and effective teaching strategies through training sessions, webinars, and scholarships.

"To our partners, thank you for your unending support that complements our goals and aspirations for the Philippine basic education. May you continue investing in the dreams of the Filipino children, as they will soon be part of our workforce that will contribute to the development of our nation," Duterte remarked.

The Partners Appreciation Program and Recognition this year drew over 170 attendees representing DepEd partners that included research institutions, nongovernmental organizations, local government units, and private entities.