Training as professional intervention should not end with its mere conduct; it should also include the documentation of former trainees’ lives years after being trained. Questions such as what happened to the trainees years after their training, did they share their knowledge with their community, and what needs to be improved in the training course or program should be asked.
According to Rowena A. Pineda, senior science research specialist of our Technology Management and Services Division (TMSD), tracer studies among the Institute’s former trainees should be conducted to ensure that the present training courses/programs meet the needs of its stakeholders especially the farmers.
In a 2017 tracer study led by Pineda, 135 graduates of the season-long Rice Specialists’ Training Course (RSTC) on PalayCheck and Palayamanan Systems were traced.
ABOUT THE RSTC
The RSTC on PalayCheck and Palayamanan Systems is one of the major training courses the TMSD offers. Trained from 2008-2010 were 347 rice sufficiency officers (RSO) and agricultural extension workers (AEW).
The season-long training was conducted in support of the Rice Master Plan of the government that aimed to train a core of rice specialists who will lead in the training and extension component of the DA-Rice program, and to enhance their knowledge and skills on the Systems and in the development of location-specific technologies.
Course content had 11 modules: social mobilization; Philippine rice situationer; introduction to rice science; the PalayCheck System; seed quality aspects of rice; hybrid rice technology; training, extension, and communication; socioeconomics; overview of the Palayamanan System; field and classroom exercises; and special topics.
Instructional strategies used were participatory lectures, discussions, and workshops; establishment of technology demonstration farms as learning fields; management of seed production areas; and conduct of PalayCheck Field Schools, teambuilding activities, Farmers’ Field Days and Forum, farm walks, and educational tours.
TRACING 2008-2010 RSTC ALUMNI
The 2017 tracer study showed that 87% of the trainees were with the government particularly in the agriculture sector doing research, extension work, and training. Trainees shared that the training was very helpful in doing their work and in finding new jobs or getting promoted (77%). Some 44% of them got promoted while 30% had secured permanent positions.
They said the PalayCheck System was the most relevant module while the actual field exercises on land preparation and crop establishment were the most educational field activities for them. The trainees described the RSTC very effective in enhancing their level of knowledge of rice production and rice based technologies (vegetables and other crops).
“My present career status in science was greatly influenced by my training way back in 2009. I personally experienced an in-depth training on rice crop management, which brought me several national and international opportunities with regard to my career development. Proud and forever grateful to be an RSO,” Dr. Jayvee A. Cruz, one of the former trainees, said. Currently, Cruz is a senior science research specialist/ Scientist I at DA-PhilRice.
They testified that the RSTC boosted their confidence in doing their work as extension worker, facilitator, resource person, and technical staff. It improved their skills in presentation and facilitation, decision-making, diagnosis, and crop management, which were important in dealing with farmers and other rice stakeholders.
“I did not only learn about the technical aspects of rice production but also about project management. My skills in dealing with various types of people in the agri sector were also polished. These learnings are of great help in fulfilling my job as extension worker and director for planning and development in Romblon State University,” Juniel G. Lucidos, also an RSTC product said.
The study learned that the specialists reached an average of 29,211 farmers, AEWs, and other rice stakeholders through capacity enhancement activities from 2008 to 2017.
“The knowledge, skills, and learnings I acquired from RSTC have motivated and shaped me to become an advocate of agriculture in Bataan. RSTC made me realize that success can be measured differently. By being an instrument in uplifting the lives of the farmers, there’s self-fulfillment and happiness on my part. For me, that is real success,” said Johanna R. Dizon, OIC-provincial agriculturist of Bataan.
The knowledge they shared in their communities were mostly on management of pests and diseases, water-saving technologies, high-quality seeds and recommended seeding rates, and nutrient deficiency and management. Most of the problems they solved were pest-related resulting in lesser field damage.
“Let us continue this kind of ‘kumustahan’ or follow-up studies with our former trainees to check if we are making changes in the lives of our stakeholders,” Pineda concluded.