SEARCA evaluates TESDA program on farm schools

The Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) has tapped the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) to evaluate its Program on Accelerating Farm School Establishment (PAFSE).

Implemented nationwide by TESDA in close coordination with the Department of Agriculture-Agriculture Training Institute (DA-ATI) and the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), PAFSE encourages farmers and other private individuals to set up farm schools across the country.

TESDA said the program also provides skills training, retooling, reskilling and upgrading of the labor force in the agri-fishery sector and has supported the establishment and improvement of at least 111 farm schools nationwide through 275 agri-fishery-focused training programs since 2016.

SEARCA Director Dr. Glenn Gregorio said the partnership with TESDA aligns well with SEARCA's strategic agenda of Accelerating Transformation Through Agricultural Innovation (ATTAIN).

"Under ATTAIN, it is SEARCA's priority focus on agri-business models for increased productivity and income as well as gender and youth engagement in agriculture," Gregorio explained.

Part of the evaluation is understanding the existing implementation process of PAFSE.

SEARCA is also tasked to identify the challenges, operational issues, and best practices and learnings to draw lessons and recommendations for the improvement of PAFSE and will develop the Theory of Change Framework for the PAFSE to serve as the basis for the operational assessment, Gregorio added.

Hence, SEARCA said it conducted a workshop for the Theory of Change Framework development with participants from the PAFSE Technical Working Group which began with the presentation of the project overview and the Theory of Change formulation process.

The participants, composed of representatives from TESDA Central Office, DA-ATI and DAR, were also reoriented on the intended impacts and long-term outcomes of PAFSE.

SEARCA said the participants mapped out their respective program activities, inputs and outputs in relation to the farm school establishment in breakout sessions, while their outputs were presented in a plenary session where they collectively defined the suitable key performance indicators for each output and outcome statement identified.

Gregorio said the workshop results will be the basis for developing the survey questionnaires and guide questions for the key informant interviews for the data collection.

"The workshop enabled us to have a better understanding of the alignment and synergy needed to improve the implementation of PAFSE," said Katherine Amor Zarsadias, TESDA Chief of the Policy, Research and Evaluation Division

Zarsadias said she expects that the project team will further gain intuitive findings when the team conducts the key informant interviews at TESDA regional offices and selected farm schools.

In October 2022, the evaluation team started its data collection covering six regions across the Philippines.