How to en­gage the youth, teach agri in se­nior high school

Agriculture - - Contents -

IN A SEC­TOR that rarely gets the spot­light, ed­u­ca­tors will have to take cen­ter stage, equipped with ped­a­gog­i­cal strate­gies to at­tract the youth to agri­cul­ture.

Now that the K to 12 pro­gram is gain­ing mo­men­tum, teach­ers who han­dle agri­cul­ture-re­lated sub­jects may have to level up in nur­tur­ing the fu­ture work­force that will pro­pel the agri­cul­ture sec­tor.

A re­cent in­dus­try sum­mit or­ga­nized by the De­part­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion gath­ered over 200 school rep­re­sen­ta­tives— mostly prin­ci­pals—to share knowl­edge, get up­dates, and pick up best prac­tices rel­a­tive to the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the se­nior high school (SHS) Pro­gram.

In a ses­sion rep­re­sent­ing the De­part­ment of Agri­cul­ture as a re­lated agency, Jaime A. Manalo IV of the Philip­pine Rice Re­search In­sti­tute (PhilRice) pre­sented re­sults from stud­ies on the In­fo­me­di­ary Cam­paign, PhilRice’s youth en­gage­ment ini­tia­tive in agri­cul­ture.

The cam­paign uses the school as the nu­cleus of agri­cul­tural ex­ten­sion. Stu­dents serve as “in­fo­me­di­aries” who fa­cil­i­tate ac­cess to in­for­ma­tion on cost-re­duc­ing and yield-en­hanc­ing tech­nolo­gies on rice. Other than read­ing ma­te­ri­als, they also ac­cess in­for­ma­tion through the Pi­noy Rice Knowl­edge Bank, an on­line por­tal on rice, and the PhilRice Text Cen­ter, an SMS-based

con­sul­ta­tion ser­vices for farm­ers.

IN­CREAS­ING EN­ROLL­MENT Agri­cul­ture re­mains as one of the less ‘cool and sexy’ ca­reer paths, as ev­i­denced by low en­roll­ment fig­ures. One can eas­ily ar­gue that it is not a lu­cra­tive pro­fes­sion, and it suf­fers from the per­cep­tion that any­one who goes into it will end up being ‘just’ a farmer. Manalo, project leader of the In­fomedairy Cam­paign, rec­om­mended the fol­low­ing strate­gies to ad­dress this mind­set:

1. Know the tar­geted young peo­ple better A 2013 study of Manalo and Elske van de Fliert (http://age­con­search.umn. edu/bit­stream/199418/2/AJAD_2013_10_2_4Manalo.pdf) showed that some rea­sons be­hind ru­ral Filipino youth’s out­mi­gra­tion from agri­cul­tural com­mu­ni­ties in­clude the “at­tach­ment” of poverty to agri­cul­ture, parental in­flu­ence, and the youths’ dis­in­ter­est in farm chores.

“Agri­cul­ture has an emo­tional, not just aca­demic, di­men­sion,” Manalo as­serted, adding that aside from the hard­core tech­ni­cal lessons, SHS teach­ers should also high­light the im­por­tance of agri­cul­ture in Philip­pine so­ci­ety.

2. Pro­mote agri as a vi­able and ver­sa­tile ca­reer op­tion Agri­cul­ture is not just about till­ing the soil. One does not even have to be an agri­cul­tur­ist to con­trib­ute to this in­dus­try. Agri­cul­ture also needs en­trepreneurs, econ­o­mists, so­ci­ol­o­gist, and agri­cul­tural jour­nal­ists, among oth­ers.

If ed­u­ca­tors are able to pro­mote agri­cul­ture as a vi­able and ver­sa­tile ca­reer op­tion, they may do well in en­cour­ag­ing high school stu­dents to take agri­cul­ture and re­lated sci­ences as their course in col­lege.

Manalo and his team have doc­u­mented a sig­nif­i­cant in­crease in agri-re­lated tracks of those who par­tic­i­pated in the In­fo­me­di­ary Cam­paign, which now op­er­ates in over 200 se­condary schools. “For in­stance, in Mag­ul­ing Na­tional High School in Sarangani, there were only 37 stu­dents in­ter­ested in agri­cul­ture cour­ses be­fore we launched the cam­paign. Af­ter the key cam­paign ac­tiv­i­ties, that num­ber in­creased to 108.”

3. En­gage the par­ents En­gag­ing the stu­dents’ par­ents is also an­other way to in­flu­ence the youth to pur­sue ca­reers in agri­cul­ture. Te­knoKliniks un­der In­fo­me­di­ary gathers par­ents to give them a venue to dis­cuss and ask ques­tions about rice pro­duc­tion tech­nolo­gies. “The par­ents should know what’s go­ing on in the schools. We feel that we need to en­gage them so they, too, will know how they can ben­e­fit from this un­der­tak­ing,” said Manalo.

He added that the par­ents should know that there is money in agri­cul­ture. Agripreneur­ship (agri­cul­tur­ere­lated en­trepreneur­ship) is some­thing they should learn about.

BEST-FIT PRAC­TICES Op­er­at­ing for al­most four years now, the In­fo­me­di­ary Cam­paign re­cently launched a book on Youth & Agri­cul­ture that doc­u­ments how-to’s and strate­gies for en­gag­ing young peo­ple in agri­cul­ture. Some of its best-fit prac­tices are listed be­low.

1. Sched­ule prac­ti­cal ac­tiv­i­ties in the early morn­ing or late af­ter­noon It is rec­om­mended that prac­ti­cal ac­tiv­i­ties on agri­cul­ture sub­jects be done in the early morn­ing or late af­ter­noon. “Pri­mar­ily, this is to avoid the scorch­ing heat of the sun. In the af­ter­noon, stu­dents don’t mind get­ting dirty as they will just head home af­ter­wards,” Manalo ex­plained.

2. In­te­grate ‘edu­tain­ment’ in teach­ing Edu­tain­ment meth­ods are pre­ferred by stu­dents. This in­cludes field tours or ex­po­sure trips, agri-games, and train­ing on the ba­sics of farm­ing.

Ex­pe­ri­en­tial learn­ing can also be fa­cil­i­tated by estab­lish­ing a rice gar­den that can give stu­dents hands-on ex­pe­ri­ence in farm­ing right in their schools. Su­per­vised by their teach­ers, stu­dents can gain con­fi­dence in their abil­ity to serve as in­fo­me­di­aries who can share their learn­ings with their par­ents and other farm­ers in their com­mu­ni­ties.

3. Re­late agri to the com­mu­nity Manalo also rec­om­mended that agri­cul­ture be re­lated to wider ap­pli­ca­tions in the com­mu­nity. “In our sites in Davao Ori­en­tal and Oc­ci­den­tal Min­doro, the stu­dents en­joyed farm chores as they saw how these re­late to their com­mu­nity. The stu­dents later on ended up do­ing an out­reach ac­tiv­ity to pro­mote cost-re­duc­ing and yield-en­hanc­ing tech­nolo­gies on rice.”

4. Use ef­fec­tive learn­ing tools and strate­gies A re­cent study of the In­fo­me­di­ary team also re­vealed that learn­ing tools and strate­gies mat­ter in ef­fec­tively teach­ing cli­mate smart agri­cul­ture. Field work and the use of videos, pic­tures, the in­ter­net, flipcharts, and Pow­erPoint pre­sen­ta­tions are fa­vored by the stu­dents.

“There are re­ally no sil­ver bul­lets, no easy answers on how to [in­ter­est] young peo­ple [in] agri­cul­ture-re­lated cour­ses. The thing is, we can, and should al­ways, try,” Manalo con­cluded.

Visit www.in­fo­me­di­ary4d.com for more de­tails and to down­load teach­ing ma­te­ri­als for free.

(Top) An agri­cul­tur­ist dis­cusses rice pests and dam­age as­sess­ment at the Co­ra­zon C. Aquino High School in Gerona, Tar­lac. (Left) In­fo­me­di­aries of the Leyte AgroIn­dus­trial School trans­plant rice as part of their prac­ti­cal ac­tiv­i­ties. (Pho­tos by Jayson Berto and Carlo Dacu­mos)

Jaime A. Manalo IV of PhilRice pre­sented a book on Youth & Agri­cul­ture dur­ing the re­cent In­dus­try Sum­mit on the Project Sup­port­ing Se­nior High School Im­ple­men­ta­tion. (Photo by Rom­mel Hal­lares)

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