The Department of Environment and Natural Resources adopts a transversal and multi-sectoral approach towards environmental protection, conservation, and management. Relatively, Youth, as a vital stakeholder and primary beneficiary of the agency’s mission, has been eyed to be one of the most promising and productive sectors for environmental stewardship to mitigate the adverse impact of climate change through innovative technological interventions.

As a stepping stone, the government orders the Department of Education (DepEd) to implement programs that will expose and extend the appreciation of learners towards a sustainable and healthy environment. Republic Act No. 10618, an act establishing Rural Farm Schools (RFS) guided by its Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) aims to integrate, inculcate, and hone the students’ agricultural skills that are found to be deteriorating in the present generation.

During the orientation proper, School Head Dr. Adessa Artatez as well as the teachers of Indang Central Elementary School (ICES) impart that the RFS is an updated version of the previously known agricultural programs in schools such as Gulayan sa Paaralan (GPP), Bio-Intensive Gardening (BIG) crafted by the International Institute of Rural Reconstruction (IIRR), and Crop Museums among others. Its distinction from other programs is that RFS has been considered another kind of curriculum where students learn general education subjects three days a week while the remaining two days are allotted for the practical and theoretical pedagogy relative to Agriculture. This is an application of the Montessori method of teaching where students learn through self-directed activity, hands-on learning, and collaboration.

Having been selected as one of the conducive schools in the Province of Cavite to pilot the curricula, ICES is challenged in the preparation and implementation of the RFS. ICES appeals to the parents for the registration of their children in the RFS. The presence of DENR-PENRO Cavite along with the Department of Agriculture – Agricultural Program Coordinating Office (DA-APCO Cavite), Army Reserve Command – Municipality of Tanza, and Cavite State University–Main Campus added up to its credibility as a manifestation of multiple partnerships for the success and continuity of the RFS.

Before the open forum, Administrative Aide IV Rodel D. Tuliao, Alternate Youth Desk Officer (AYDO) of DENR PENRO Cavite introduced the DENR and its flagship programs. On behalf of the Office, AYDO Tuliao lauded the School and its management highlighting how vital RFS is in connection with the agency’s mandate.  Other mentioned agencies also shared insightful ideas as to how can RFS be effective.

ICES requested technical assistance from the DENR in the maintenance of their 1.8-hectare farm in terms of manpower specifically in the cleaning and clearing of area. They wish to coordinate further for a possible partnership in their Brigada Eskwela scheduled on August 14-31, 2023. This activity encourages the community and other stakeholders to volunteer for the said cause. The DENR’s best practices were also shared during the event since the agency has been responsible for the installation of Eco-gardens in most of the local communities within the province. This is to highlight upcycling of waste materials that may still be used in the garden in line with the office implementation of Republic Act No. 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act. In support of RA 9003, an initiative imparting responsibility to youth under primary education of proper waste etiquette was included in the approved WFP’s Key Result Area 6 (Strategic Communication, Education and Mobilization) of the Department of Education. 

It is further recommended that since RFS is the DepEd’s version of the National Greening Program (NGP), showcase of different varieties of seedlings (fruit bearing and indigenous species) in their nursery would be preferential for the students to appreciate and familiarize with proper handling and growing of trees. Other technical assistance from different aspects was pledged by other participating agencies, especially the DA-APCO.

After this, Dr. Adessa Artatez led the discussion on how beneficial RFS will be, persuading the youth of the community to take part in the mission of gaining back the country’s green industry as they pursue green skills to land on well-compensating and sustainable green jobs. A tour of the proposed area for the RFS concluded the orientation with high hopes for the program’s success and continuity through the established partnership.####