The Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA), hosted by the Philippine government, and Spain's Asociación de Centros de Formación Profesional (FPEmpresa), have signed a five-year collaboration agreement for vocational education and training (VET) in a virtual ceremony. FPEmpresa is a nonprofit association representing Spain's public, semi-private, and private VET centers. Meanwhile, SEARCA, established by the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization (SEAMEO), serves as a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing graduate education and coordinating research in agriculture. Spain is an associate member country of SEAMEO, which is SEARCA's parent organization.
"This collaboration aligns with SEARCA's vision of expanding its network of partners and stakeholders. SEARCA and FPEmpresa both aim to unite diverse stakeholder groups, fostering a community focused on best practices and capacity-building for sustainable development," Gregorio remarked. The signing event included FPEmpresa board members, international project staff, and SEARCA personnel engaged in discussions to identify the initial collaborations between the two organizations.
Jimeno Ortas, facilitating discussions between the two institutions, affirmed the shared commitment to international cooperation, aiming to create new opportunities for both teachers and students. She highlighted the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) as a tool to unite organizations with common interests in achieving excellence in vocational training and higher education, particularly in agricultural studies. Emphasizing its importance for all represented governments, Smithson, who participated in the discussions leading to the MOU signing, expressed gratitude to the Embassy of Spain for facilitating the connection between the two institutions. Dr. Nur Azura Adam, SEARCA's Deputy Director for Programs, provided insights into the initial steps taken and conveyed excitement about the forthcoming developments in the SEARCA-FPEmpresa partnership this year.