THE United Nations (UN) has finally proclaimed an International Day of Education!

This is very significant for the education sector and for educators like me – I was a civilian instructor at the Philippine Military Academy (PMA)...

The International Day of Education is January 24 of every year.

On this occasion, the UN – celebrating the first International Day of Education in 2019 – enthused, thus: “...By proclaiming the International Day of Education, UN member states recognized the importance of working to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education at all levels – so that all people may have access to lifelong learning opportunities that help them to acquire the knowledge and skills needed to access opportunities to participate fully in society and contribute to sustainable development.”

The UN provided the following backgrounders on the declaration of the International Day of Education:

Education – a human right – is key to sustainable development

“The right to education is enshrined in article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The declaration calls for free and compulsory elementary education. The Convention on the Rights of the Child, adopted in 1989, goes further to stipulate that countries shall make higher education accessible to all...

“When it adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in September 2015, the international community recognized that education is essential for the success of all 17 of its goals. Sustainable Development Goal 4, in particular, aims to ‘ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all’ by 2030.”

“Education offers children a ladder out of poverty and a path to a promising future...

“But about 265 million children and adolescents around the world do not have the opportunity to enter or complete school. More than a fifth of them are of primary school age. They are thwarted by poverty, discrimination, armed conflict, emergencies and the effects of climate change. Migration and forcible displacement also affect the achievement of the education goals, as presented in the 2019 Global Education Monitoring report.”

The Unesco to governments: Make education a leading priority

The Unesco – which was invited to facilitate the observance of International Education Day – called “on governments and all partners to make education a leading priority.”

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco) had this to say on this First International Education Day:

“Education is a human right, a public good and a public responsibility.”

The United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 24 January as International Day of Education in celebration of the role of education for peace and development.

Without inclusive and equitable quality education and lifelong opportunities for all, countries will not succeed in achieving gender equality and breaking the cycle of poverty that is leaving millions of children, youth and adults behind.

Today, 262 million children and youth still do not attend school; 617 million children and adolescents cannot read and do basic math; less than 40 percent of girls in sub-Saharan Africa complete lower secondary school and some four million children and youth refugees are out of school. Their right to education is being violated and it is unacceptable.

As the world marks the very first International Education Day, Unesco calls on governments and all partners to make universal quality education a leading priority.”

In her message on this First International Education Day, Unesco Director-General Audrey Azoulay said: “...Education is the most powerful force in our hands to ensure significant improvements in health, to stimulate economic growth, to unlock the potential and innovation we need to build more resilient and sustainable societies...”

SM Foundation educates Taloy Sur farmers on farming techniques!

I was happy to witness the SM Foundation’s pre-graduation event for farmers who participated in its training program on upland farming techniques!

And I got to judge in the farmers’ cook fest at Taloy Sur, Tuba, Benguet, as well!

The Taloy Sur Farmers’ Harvest & Cookfest – held on 2019 January 10 – was participated in by Taloy Sur farmers who were trained to plant high-value crops including lowland vegetables in the uplands.

The training was conducted over 90 days from October 2, 2018 to January 3, 2019 by SM Foundation.

Two lady farmers who both participated in the cook fest – Monaliza Juan and Sylvia Ingosan – said the training included making mulch over the planting area, and the scheduling of the planting process, i.e., the correct planting season, and the proper harvesting period, to ensure that the plants grow and ripen.

Mulch is “a covering, as of straw, compost, or plastic sheeting, spread on the ground around plants to prevent excessive evaporation or erosion, enrich the soil, inhibit weed growth, etc.” []

Some 77 farmers from Barangay Taloy Sur compose the Batch 187 of “Kabalikat sa Kabuhayan” under the SM Rural Farmers Training Program.

The training program now counts a total of 23,000 farmer graduates, some of whom have gone to work in vegetable farms and businesses abroad, including in Canada and Norway, according to Cristie Angeles, assistant vice president (AVP) - Outreach Programs - SM Foundation.

SM Foundation’s Ms. Angeles said the “Kabalikat sa Kabuhayan” program was the brainchild of Shoemart Inc. founder Henry Sy, Sr. to help rural farmers cope with the change in agricultural technologies.

“Every year, we conduct 30 trainings” all over the country, added Ms. Angeles, explaining that the hands-on trainings on high-value crops are conducted once a week over 90 days or three months.

Ms. Angeles added that SM Foundation was also considering offering trainings on “urban farming” in Baguio City.

Thanks for the invite to this farm event, my national media colleague Rose dela Cruz! [This landowner-farmer’s granddaughter – with a green thumb to boot – just loves covering and being in the midst of such aggie or agri events!]

Post Script: Time waits for no one!

This wonderful farmers’ event that I attended two Thursdays ago got buried in my columns two weeks in a row...

First, because it was held on a Thursday – my column deadline day – when I am pressed for time.

And second, because on the next Thursday (2019 January 17), I represented my group (Lakas – Christian Muslim Democrats) at the launch of the COMELEC-led Multi-Sectoral Anti-Vote Buying Campaign – and I was unfortunately pressed for time and space...

And then, before it could see print, the owner and founder of Shoemart, Inc. and SM Foundation – Mr. Henry Sy, Sr. – died. My belated condolences po!

Indeed, time waits for no one – which shall be a topic in my Life Up North and Beyond – in the nearest and soonest future!