A Philippines-hosted inter-government treaty organization headquartered on the campus of the University of the Philippines Los Baños and a university based in Timor-Leste have institutionalized their mutual cooperation to collaborate in areas of common interest such as education, training and research.
The Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) and the Universidade da Paz (UNPAZ) also agreed to collaborate in undertaking programs, projects and other related activities, exchange scientific materials, publications and information.
UNPAZ is a private university that was established in March 2004 by Neon Metin Foundation (NMF) with principal offices in Dili, Timor-Leste. NMF was founded by a group of Timorese intellectuals to bridge thousands of young high school graduates who intend to proceed with their studies in higher education.
It was on October 10, 2022 when SEARCA Director Dr. Glenn Gregorio and engineer Jose Menezes Soares da Costa, UNPAZ Administration Council President, signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between SEARCA and UNPAZ.
Witnesses were associate professor Joselito Florendo, SEARCA deputy director, and Luis Pereira Cardoso, UNPAZ Vice Rector for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation.
Gregorio noted that with SEARCA's focus on agricultural and rural development or ARD, the agreement will engage with UNPAZ Faculty of Technology of Agriculture with Food Processing Technology and Natural Resource Conservation studies.
According to da Costa, the partnership is a good chance to learn from SEARCA, particularly in the areas of research and scientific publication adding that research and publication are not yet a habit for them at UNPAZ.
"We would like to learn a lot from you. We, from UNPAZ, are in the learning process and we believe in learning by doing," he said during the MoA signing.
Meanwhile, Hitu Carvalho de Jesus, Attaché for Education of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste to the Philippines, expressed thanks to SEARCA for providing formal education scholarships to Timorese students.
De Jesus said they had had many Timorese students who graduated from SEARCA and he is glad to know that they have had SEARCA alumni association of Timor-Leste.
SEARCA has recorded 69 full graduate scholarships (51 MS and 18 PhD) awarded to Timor-Leste nationals which included scholars funded by the German Academic Exchange Service or DAAD under a special scholarship project for Timor-Leste nationals in 2003.
It said there are 54 Timorese scholars (42 MS and 12 PhD) who have completed their graduate programs to date.
De Jesus said the MoU is a commitment for Timor-Leste to work more closely toward pursuing a better quality education.
"We are hoping that SEARCA and UNPAZ will invest more in joint research and program development activities as well as provide more study opportunities in the future," he added.