University of the Philippines Los Baños
Thursday, 01 December 2016 00:00

“SUCs should fill in the extension void” - CHED Commissioner Sangalang

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Acknowledging that state universities and colleges (SUC) are not expected  to directly engage in extension work as one extension model suggests, Dr. Ruperto S. Sangalang, commissioner for higher education (CHED), underscored the pivotal role of SUCs in the highly “politicized” extension service landscape in many local government units.

“We are expected to train extension workers of (LGUs), their officials and other people who are interested in doing extension work,” Dr. Sangalang said in the seminar held at the College of Public Affairs and Development (CPAf) on Nov. 25 with the theme “Challenges in higher education research and extension.”

He said that in the meantime, SUCs could go beyond its role to help fix the extension system in the country and fill in the R&E vacuum. “SUCs could effectively fill up the void, given the chance and at least temporarily, while we are having acute problems, when it comes to the capabilities of LGUs to deliver effective extension services to their service areas,” he said.

In his talk, Dr. Sangalang emphasized the role of higher education institutions (HEIs), particularly their research and extension (R&E) functions, to national development. “The CHED and the government have continued emphasizing the importance of research and extension (R&E),” he said. “These two services significantly contribute to economic growth.”

He went on to reiterate the economic growth that the country enjoys today, but also took note of the still rampant poverty level, particularly among farming and fishing communities. It is on this premise where he pointed out the role of R&E in uplifting the agriculture and fisheries sector and CHED’s quest to further capacitate agriculture and fisheries HEIs, collectively known as the National Agriculture and Fisheries Education System (NAFES). “CHED has provided millions of pesos in support of research and extension through HEIs,” said Dr. Sangalang.

“We are now in an era of rapid change. This means that we have to further enable our HEIs so they can participate more actively in national transformation through the production and transfer of knowledge,” Dr. Sangalang continued.

Inspired by existing studies on R&E, Dr. Sangalang underscored the need to address gaps and concerns on doing strategic research and enabling these researches to be adapted and integrated to the rightful sectors.

He called for an increased research output, both as a way to reach out to farmers and to increase the country’s competence. “In spite of the huge increase in our funds for research and development (R&D), we are languishing when it comes to percentage of expenditure relative to our Gross Domestic Product (GDP),” Dr. Sangalang said. The Philippines spends 0.1% for research, while the ideal percentage for R&D expenditures, based on UNSECO, should be 1% of GDP.

Dr. Sangalang further emphasized the huge connection and overlaps between R&E, and advocated for team work between the research and the extension sectors. “These people have to work as a team; they cannot work independently of one another. The interface between research and extension should be strong,” Dr. Sangalang advised.

In relation to this, Dr. Sangalang emphasized the need to strengthen NAFES’ technology demonstration projects. He encouraged HEIs to establish more multi-location farm trials and large-scale committee-based pilot projects, having in mind that the field demonstration projects will benefit farmers.

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In his presentation, he also contemplated on the extent of benefits, if there are, that the farmers derive from the academe’s research publications and attendance to conferences, activities that entail costs on the part of the government. He also presented an R&E framework which HEIs should use to identify the outputs of and links between R&E derived from the inputs provided for them by the government.

“We are spending huge amounts of money. What were the outcomes? What were the benefits enjoyed by our clients?” Dr. Sangalang asked, in relation to government-funded R&E pursuits of HEIs. “In the name of accountability, we have to be able to provide reasonable answers to these,” he said.

In ending his lecture, Dr. Sangalang talked about the development, albeit slow and in trickles, on the lives of the marginalized sectors. “We, CPAf, UPLB and the rest of HEIs must continue our effort to help raise issues, advocate policies and work hard for our people and our country. As an alumnus of his University, this has been my advocacy, and this advocacy will remain.” Dr. Sangalang said.

After Dr. Sangalang’s presentation, Dr. Roberto DV. Revilla, vice president for research and development of Colegio de San Juan de Letran Calamba and a UPLB alumnus, and Dr. Rowena dT. Baconguis, director of the Institute for Governance and Rural Development of CPAf discussed their respective reactions and insights on the topic.

Before he was appointed Commissioner of Higher Education (CHED), Dr. Sangalang was president of the Cavite State University for over 20 years. He is a recipient of the 2016 UPLB Outstanding Alumnus for Educational Leadership.

Present at the seminar were Dr. Virginia R. Cardenas and Dr. Agnes C. Rola, current and former CPAf deans; Dr. Merlyne M. Paunlagui, director of the CPAf Center for Strategic Planning and Policy Studies (CSPPS); and Dr. Evelie P. Serrano and Dr. Lynlei L. Pintor, president and vice president, respectively, of CPAf Alumni Association (CPAfAA). Also present were alumnus of CPAf, many of whom are extension educators and practitioners; faculty members and staff of UPLB, Batangas State University, University of Southeastern Philippines, Letran Calamba, University of Perpetual Help Biñan and Lyceum of the Philippines University Laguna. The Seminar was co-organized by CPAfAA and CSPPS. (Mark Jayson E. Gloria)