Editorial: Planting in classrooms

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Sunday, January 26, 2014


FOR all its inadequacies, the Philippine educational system represents the only chance for many Filipinos to improve their lot and open opportunities for their children.

The classroom may yet prove to be the most influential venue for shaping the future of agriculture, an enterprise occurring outside the classroom but shaped by the perceptions and skills molded in students as early as the elementary years.

At the basic education level are formed early preconceptions that miss the importance of agriculture in the daily lives of not just ordinary citizens but all citizens.

Agriculture production secures food self-reliance, a concept divorced from the prejudices and biases of formal education against manual labor.

Getting agriculture specialists into classrooms and teachers out into gardens and farms will benefit youths who, after centuries of aspiring to be lawyers, doctors and nurses, may finally see how being a farmer and excelling at it may do this nation more good that it was too blind in the past to see.

Calamity

A cold spell for two weeks this January killed plants and livestock in the uplands of Cebu City, prompting the Cebu City Council to declare a state of calamity in 17 mountain barangays, reported Sun.Star Cebu’s Jujemay G. Awit last Jan. 26.

The situation also banded 31 barangays heads into the Association of Barangay Councils (ABC)-Hillyland. The newly formed group faces not just the impact of the extreme weather conditions but also the high cost of providing crop insurance and the impassable condition of upland roads after weeks of constant rain.

The declaration of the state of calamity releases funds for rice, goods and other forms of assistance for farmers and their laborers, deprived temporarily of their livelihood.

A more sustainable approach benefitting agriculture is training teachers to better make use of Home Economics and Livelihood Education (Hele) and Technology and Livelihood Education (TLE) sessions to help students better appreciate the work on farms and the impact on communities and ecology.

Agriculture’s improvement hinges not just on the appreciation and application of science and technology in raising crops and livestock but also a reeducation in values and standards. Financial literacy and maturity in handling microcredit are as crucial for a farmer to learn as facility with appropriate technology and farming innovations.

Opting for agriculture

While other courses of study are valued by industry and academe, resulting in the recognition of the top schools in accounting or law, for instance, no such support is accorded for agriculture.

Thus, it may boost the interest and aspirations of future farmers that the Department of Education (DepEd) is proposing a General Academic Strand for the K to 12’s senior high school curriculum to guide students in finding a field of interest they can pursue for work after graduation or college studies.

Last Dec. 18, Rappler.com reported that the DepEd revealed four strands in the proposal that may be implemented by 2015.

These are Business, Accountancy, Management (Bam), Humanities, Education, Social Sciences (Hess), and Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics (Stem), and Liberal Arts.

The proposed innovations in the senior high school program came from the involvement of academics and professionals of various disciplines. The DepEd’s goal is to make the curriculum not just learner-centric but also “alive,” reported Rappler.

Thus, the Bam strand now incorporates “Business Ethics and Social Responsibility,” a recent addition to its specialized tracks in the light of the involvement of Janet Napoles in the pork barrel scam, Rappler quoted DepEd Undersecretary for Programs and Projects Dina Ocampo as commenting. 

“Disaster Readiness and Risk Reduction” is one of the nine specialized subjects under the fourth strand on Liberal Arts. After super typhoon Yolanda, earthquakes and extreme weather disruptions that ravaged the country last year, disaster preparation is now a relevant and urgent subject that must be taught to Filipino youths.

The implementation of the senior high school curriculum is intended to help even the most undecided teenager have a clearer idea on his or her “preferred exit… after basic education: higher education, employment, entrepreneurship, or middle level skills development,” reported Rappler.

For the sake of improving agricultural production and food self-sufficiency, it is important that Agriculture be included in the Stem strand for high school seniors.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on January 27, 2014.

Opinion

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