Written by: Raymart V. Maruquez

The Philippine National Volunteer Service Coordinating Agency (PNVSCA) continued its advocacy in building stakeholder partnerships. On 10 March 2021, the PNVSCA facilitated an exploratory meeting with the Department of Education (DepEd) through its International Cooperation Office (ICO) and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). The agenda of the meeting highlights the possible areas of collaboration among PNVSCA, DepEd-ICO and JICA. PNVSCA’s Chief Volunteer Service Officer Ms. Ela Victoria Sarmago moderated the flow of conversation.

JICA Program Officer Mr. Anton Marfori and Senior Program Officer Lara Javier presented fast facts about JICA’s volunteer programs shared best practices citing actual cases of Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers (JOCV) interventions and results in selected elementary schools in the Philippines. They also shared, JICA’s shift in strategy to the new normal brought by the health crisis.

DepEd-ICO Director Margarita Consolacion Ballesteros presented the Department’s Priority Programs and Projects for Fiscal Year 2021. She also highlighted the functions of the ICO as the clearing house of all international transactions pertaining to the education sector. She also requested JICA to share their knowledge on the most prominent trends in Japan’s K-12 classroom such as student-led learning, emerging technologies, and innovating pedagogy. She added that DepEd would like to benchmark Japan’s K-12’s standards and innovative practices as support for a more effective and efficient student-teacher learning methodologies.

JICA Volunteer Coordinator Mr. Hiroshi Kikawa agreed with the request and shared the idea of tapping JOCVs with expertise on Information Technology (IT) in Metro Manila and nearby provinces in the preparation of educational materials and replicate and deliver the same to remote provinces.

PNVSCA’s Executive Director Donald James D. Gawe identified preservice teaching as possible entry point for volunteering interventions aimed at enhancing the quality of basic education. He said that higher education institutions offering academic degrees in education can be tapped to participate in volunteering efforts to enhance the learning materials for basic education. He committed for PNVSCA to organize meeting for the IVSOs and VIOs interested on this concern, DepEd, CHED, State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) and other relevant organizations be conducted to further discuss how to proceed with the initiative.

JICA Volunteer Coordinators Mr. Hiroshi Kikawa and Ms. Naomi Sakatani eagerly supported the request of DepEd-ICO for technical assistance to the identified areas of collaboration. To formalize this collaboration, a written agreement through a Memorandum of Understanding shall be drafted and be subjected for review by all partners.

The author is currently the Senior Volunteer Service Officer of the Program Coordination, Monitoring and Evaluation Division, Philippine National Volunteer Service Coordinating Agency.

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