Helping hands behind Claveria Rural Vocational School (CRVS) Infomediaries
As documented in the book Youth & Agriculture: The Infomediary Campaign in the Philippines, CRVS did several strategies that the Campaign team endorsed for wider practice among participating schools.
Some of these innovations include the school’s initiative to conduct the first Infomediary Field Day, and the establishment of the school’s rice garden, which proved to be a success when the varieties planted outyielded those of the farmers’ in the nearby fields. These varieties were then adopted by the farmers in their community.
Aside from the student-infomediaries, CRVS’ success can be attributed to three forms of helping hands. These are:
- the ‘principal’ force
- the ‘teacher’ factor
- the innovative ally
The ‘principal’ force
“I am not agri person so I had to go out of my office, remove my shoes, wear farm gears, and go to the field to experience it for myself,” said Corazon Llapitan, former principal of CRVS, as she described her humble beginnings as the school’s principal in 2013.
Ma’am Cora was fully aware that general education, her line of expertise, is far different from her new school’s identity with a strong orientation in agriculture. Yet, she was not flustered. She even took the challenge of co-implementing the Infomediary Campaign in the school.
As she learned the fine points of the Campaign, she partnered with Horticulture teacher Elviranida Manuel and Internet and Computing Fundamentals (ICF) teacher Allan Tomas.
“We explored each other’s capabilities. We prepared a workplan and closely followed this. We dreamed and worked together,” she articulated.
Ma’am Cora served as the beacon of the teachers and the students. She continued to inspire and encourage them to continue their hardwork.
“Ma’am Cora is very supportive. She gives me opportunities to enhance my knowledge so that I may have better things to teach to students to become better infomediaries. She is a great motivator,” said Ma’am Elvie.
And by doing this, she did not fail to be the principal force that pushed her co-implementers to do their best in their own tasks.
The ‘teacher’ factor
Elviranida Manuel, or Ma’am Elvie, led the students in the implementation of the Campaign from 2013 to early 2016.
“At the start, , we had several problems. The school did not have a land to establish a rice garden. There were no funds available for the production inputs. Most importantly, farming was not among the inclinations of most of our students ,” said Ma’am Elvie.
Ma’am Elvie was not at all daunted by these challenges.
She linked with their local government unit (LGU), which resulted in their vice-mayor lending them a piece of land for their school garden. The event not only lent them a space for their rice garden, it also enabled them to start a collaboration with their LGU.
Knowing that the school had no funds to support the rice garden, Ma’am Elvie shelled out some money. She bought fertilizers, other farm inputs, and provided snacks for her students.
Above all, she inspired all her agri-crop students to appreciate agriculture.
“I did not give up on my students who were at first reluctant to join us,” said Ma’am Elvie.
Her efforts to convince her students seemed to not have fallen on deaf ears. Some of her students actually enrolled in agriculture-related courses. Those who enrolled under the K-12 program continued taking crop production as their specialization.
“Ma’am Elvie taught me that agriculture is an important and noble career, and so I was inspired to continue taking horticulture as my area of specialization,” said Rowena Quilala, Grade 11 from CRVS, and a former student of Ma’am Elvi in 2014.
Indeed, her unswerving commitment to engage young people in rice production defined how the ‘teacher’ factor is important in implementing the Infomediary Campaign.
The innovative ally
Among the key strengths of the Infomediary Campaign in CRVS is its ICT component. The school is able to marry agriculture and ICT quite well.
ICF teacher, Sir Allan Tomas, managed the “text” and “surf” components. He actively posted the photos and videos of the activities of their school in the Infomediary Campaign Facebook Group. This way, teachers from other provinces are able to emulate their example.
While internet connectivity was a real challenge in their school, Sir Allan coped by optimizing their ‘i-schools wireless internet learning laboratory.’
Sir Allan innovated when he introduced the Electronic Quiz Bee. Questions of which revolved around the key messages and advocacies of the Campaign, and lessons from the PinoyRice Knowledge Bank, an information portal on rice production in the Philippines.
He also utilized CourseLab, an easy-to-use, e-Learning authoring tool that offers a programming-free WYSIWYG (a program) environment for creating high-quality interactive e-Learning content that can be published on the Internet, Learning Management Systems (LMS), CD-ROMs and other devices.
“Agriculture is not my cup of tea, but PhilRice gave me the opportunity to somehow appreciate it. As long as we are open to change, we can always find ways to make things better so many will benefit, ” Sir Allan said.
Indeed, Ma’am Cora, Ma’am Elvie and Sir Allan were the dynamic forces that guided the CRVS’ students into effective infomediaries. They are the kind of helping hands that are needed in every development initiative especially in involving youth in agriculture.