In her presentation titled, “The ties that bind: Exploring synergies in multi-stakeholder skills development programs in rural communities”, Dr. Gina Lontoc shared how the project she leads explores how multi-stakeholder collaboration and leadership create synergies in promoting adult learning, sustainable farming system, and livelihood practices. Lontoc was the speaker in the webinar of the Department of English held on March 24, 2021 via Zoom.
A team of researchers from the Research Center for Social Sciences and Education (RCSSED) led by Lontoc has been working with the rural woman farmers of Pinili, San Jose, Nueva Ecija, a province in the Central Luzon region known as the Rice Bowl of the Philippines. This research program is titled “Empowering women and youth in the agricultural sector through sustainable livelihood practices.”
The research, according to Lontoc, who teaches Research courses at the UST Graduate School and the College of Education, centers on helping the out-of-school youth and women-led organizations in marginalized communities in Nueva Ecija. Started in 2019, the research is expected to be finished in 2021.
Using collaborative programs in research, participants of the research project get expert assistance from the multi-disciplinary team from the University of Santo Tomas. Lontoc, an expert on adult literacy and intergenerational learning, helps manage, monitor, and coordinate the program with stakeholders.
Graduate School Asst. Dean Prof. Camilla Vizconde, Ph.D., Asst. Prof. Evalyn Abiog, Ph.D., and Asst. Prof. Katrina Ninfa Topacio, faculty members of the English Language Department, contribute their expertise in digital literacy, gender, and readability components of curriculum materials.
This research program combines Participatory Action Research (PAR) methodology and the Sustainable Livelihoods Approach (SLA) operating within Freirean principles that entail the developing critical consciousness of structures of power and the realization of their own power, through praxis to take a collective action to address present challenges. This also involves collaborative efforts among government agencies, NGOs, research institutions, and women-led organizations.
The project is funded by the University through the funds allotted by the RCSSEd to its individual researchers involved in the project. In an online interview, Lontoc explained that support also comes from the Don Bosco Training Center and the Department of Agriculture in Nueva Ecija. The latter provides the participants with equipment, seeds, animals, and access to training opportunities.
The program also considers not only approaches to skills training in rural communities but also contextual factors which impact access and participation in training programs. Thus, it addresses issues such as challenges and opportunities in co-facilitating and co-producing knowledge in rural communities, practices that build on existing literacies of participants, and distribution of power across sectors to achieve social transformation in rural communities.
Focusing on her audience composed of Department of English faculty members, Lontoc explained that they could use their communication and social interaction skills in addressing the priorities of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs).
After presenting this research to colleagues from the English Language Department, Lontoc, during the Open Forum, called on her co-teachers to “Be involved.”
“We need your time, your passion, and compassion,” she ended.
The webinar was organized by Department Chair Assoc. Prof. Rachelle B. Lintao, Ph.D., Assoc. Prof. Ma. Regina Arriero was the Open Forum moderator.