The University of Santo Tomas is one of the two partner educational institutions tapped by the Jollibee Group Foundation and Singapore Polytechnic for the Learning Express (LeX) – Farmer Entrepreneurship Program (FEP), which will run until March 2021.

The multi-sectoral project aims to engage university students in helping uplift the country’s smallholder farmers, particularly by engaging the former in community extension work that uses Design Thinking and Social Innovation Methodologies.

The outputs for the project will be at least 30 students engaged in the initiatives; four faculty members certified as LeX facilitators; at least three innovations developed for the FEP beneficiary groups; and the implementation of a school-wide agriculture advocacy project.

As an initial step, University faculty members were trained in Singapore Polytechnic from October 1-4, 2019, on the module “Learning Express Foundation Training on Design Thinking.” Representing the University were Assoc. Prof. Michael Francis D. Benjamin, PhD (Assistant Manager of the TOMASInno Center and Lead Coordinator of the project) and LeX_FEP facilitators Asst. Prof. Alan Rodelle M. Salcedo, PhD (Department of Chemistry); Asst. Prof. Nancy C. Bartolome, PhD (Department of Entrepreneurship); Engr. Edison A. Roxas, PhD (Department of Electronics Engineering); Ms. Propa-Joy R. Santor (Department of Biological Sciences); and Mr. Patrick Joseph C. Amulong (Coordinator of the TOMASInno Center).

UST is joined by the University of San Carlos (Cebu) for the project. On UST’s part, the FEP partner communities and their respective commodities are: 1) Pangil, Laguna (kangkong); 2) San Antonio, Quezon (hot peppers); and Magallanes, Cavite (green bell peppers). The local implementing partners are Ahon sa Hirap, Inc. for Laguna, and the local government units of San Antonio and Magallanes.

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