SEARCA conducts M&E for school edible landscaping in Rizal

AT least 11 schools in the province of Rizal underwent monitoring and evaluation (M&E) activity as part of the School Edible Landscaping for Entrepreneurship (SEL4E) Project of the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA).

SEARCA director Glenn Gregorio said the M&E activity conducted 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.

Gregorio noted that among the post-training expectations from the participants was the establishment or improvement of their respective school gardens.

"It is also expected that they re-echo their learnings to the school and community stakeholders and potentially integrate SEL4E concepts and principles into their lessons for the learners," he added.

The schools visited were Baras Elementary School and Baras National High School in Baras; Tanay-Sampaloc Integrated National High School and Sampaloc Elementary School in Tanay; Tuna-Balibago High School Annex in Cardona; Bagumbong Elementary School in Jala-jala; Malaya Elementary School and Virgilio B. Melendrez Memorial Elementary School in Pililla; Tomas Claudio Memorial Elementary School and San Guillermo Elementary School in Morong; and Pantay Integrated National High School in Teresa.

Gregorio also noted that in August 2023 and January 2024, educators and officers from the participating schools were part of two training activities about food security, sustainable agriculture, school gardening and partnership-building, among others.

Before the capacity-building activities, SEARCA also 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 or SHGBEE Project and SEL4E comprises various indicators and scoring criteria across different categories, providing a comprehensive assessment framework for project evaluation.

The visiting delegation on May 21 to 24, who conducted interviews and assessments on these pilot schools was composed of SEARCA's staff from the Education and Collective Learning Department-Training for Development Unit or ECLD-T4DU and the Research and Thought Leadership Department or RTLD.

From SEARCA, the M&E activity was led by program specialist Sonny Pasiona and program associate Rachelle Anne Mangaya, both of ECLD-T4DU; and RTLD program specialist Anna Gale Vallez and project associate Pauline Gonzales.

They were assisted by Christian Anabo, Gulayan sa Paaralan Program (GPP) Division coordinator and John Alexis Cruz, GPP alternate focal person from the Department of Education Schools Division Office of Rizal (DepEd Rizal), along with SEL4E technical coordinator Antonio Flores 2nd.

Gregorio said the SEL4E is an extension of the center'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 and 2017.

He said the current project seeks to expand the SEL4E model through multistakeholder participation in improving the nutrition and health of children and their families with funding from SEARCA Synergy Group Operations Inc. and additional support from DepEd Rizal and the Pilipinas Shell Foundation Inc.

Gregorio added that this expanded scope aims "to produce a cadre of technical staff capable of sustaining and scaling up the SEL4E project."