OISCA’s Children Forest Program in the Philippines
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05 May 2017 OISCA’s Children Forest Program in the Philippines

Written by: Rubiemae S. Bayquen

Dr. Mario G. Lopez the man behind the successful reforestation in Brgy. Kirang, welcomes the participants.
OISCA Reforestation Site in Brgy. Kirang, Aritao, Nueva Vizcaya.

The Organization for Industrial, Spiritual and Cultural Advancement, International (OISCA) has piloted its Children Forest Program (CFP) in the Philippines in 1991. Since then, the program has flourished in more than 4,690 schools in 35 countries. To further strengthen the program in the Philippines, OISCA partnered with three key agencies namely the Philippine National Volunteer Service Coordinating Agency (PNVSCA), Department of Education (DepEd) and Department of Agriculture (DA) in 2012.

The CFP’s main objective is for the schools to create a mini forest in or near the school grounds. Furthermore, it instills the importance of the environment through activities like segregation of biodegradable waste, promotion of organic farming, eco summer camp and other environmental related activities. These activities are not limited to school children and teachers but also extend to the community. Unlike other programs wherein activities just end on planting trees, the CFP is, in fact, a long-term program. Students and the community nourish the trees they planted over a period of years, which is deemed more effective to develop future volunteers or ambassadors of environmental conservation.
Beyond the positive impact CFP offers to the biodiversity, it also presents a different venue of learning for the school children. The children in particular, gain an early sense of discipline, responsibility and social skills through their exposure to the natural environment. Likewise, it is without a doubt that agriculture and farming is not a popular dream occupation for a lot of young Filipinos. The CFP aims to change the mindset of the youth towards farming and agriculture in general.

Update on CFP in the Philippines

In the Philippines alone, CFP was able to engage 120 elementary schools and has planted over 10,000 trees as of 2016. The participating provinces are Abra, Ilocos Sur and Ilocos Norte, Benguet, Nueva Vizcaya, Quirino Province, Isabela, Nueva Ecija, Aurora Province, Camarines Norte, Compostella Valley, Iloilo, Palawan, Davao del Norte and Quezon. Among the trees planted were mahogany, cemelina, acacia and narra. Fruit bearing trees such as mango, kalamansi, ponkan, oranges, pomelo and even coffee seedlings were also planted to encourage students to eat local fruits. Mangrove trees were planted in the schools situated near the coastal area. As to date, the CFP seeks to extend their program to the secondary schools.
For the fully established mini forest, schools are encouraged to establish a ‘tree museum’. Signs, local and scientific names of trees and plants and other interesting information are placed in the tree museum. Aside from the increased knowledge of taxonomy of plants among the school children, tree museum is also projected to promote ecotourism in the community. Three tree museums were already established in the country situated in Quezon province, Palawan and Camarines Norte.
The segregated biodegradable waste is used for vermicomposting activity of the school in promotion of organic farming. Other than vermicomposting, CFP also introduced how to make concoctions for organic growing and pest management. For the pioneer schools, OISCA provides small boxes which contain vegetable seeds. This activity is called the ‘ Seed Library’ wherein students are encouraged to ‘borrow’ seeds and plant it in their respective homes, and when these plants bear fruit, the students then have the responsibility to replace the seeds they planted.
Schools that do not have the capacity to set up a mini forest could also join the program through creating a seedling nursery. The forest and fruit seedlings raised here are then distributed to the school children or other interested schools.
In addition, the CFP also supports the United Nation’s Green Wave Campaign. The Green Wave Campaign aims to promote and conserve local biodiversity, thus the school children are encouraged to plant indigenous species.
Every year, the CFP chooses a school delegate composed of one teacher and two students to be sent to Japan to share their accomplishments and best practices. It also serves as a venue for them to learn from other CFP partner countries’ CFP activities.

2017 OISCA Children Forest Program National Training Seminar
Participants in the 2017 training of trainers enjoying the workshop.
Immersion in Kirang Elementary School in Brgy. Kirang, Aritao, Nueva Vizcaya.
To effectively implement CFP, OISCA conducts annual national training seminar to capacitate the trainers (mostly elementary teachers) on environmental education. For this year 2017, the training was held last March 8-11 at OISCA Technical Trainees Alumni Association (OTTAA) Nueva Vizcaya Reforestation Project, Brgy. Kirang, Aritao, Nueva Vizcaya in which PNVSCA was able to participate. Around 45 selected DepEd educators and community leaders attended the training.
The seminar workshop included presentations on how important and urgently needed the conservation of the environment, quantification of the worth of a tree and implications of squandering natural resources. The successful reforestation of the venue itself was also presented.
Different teaching techniques which are tailored to various ages of children were introduced to the teachers. The objective is to make the learning fun and interesting for the children, thus most of the techniques taught are into arts, music and games. After the workshop seminar, the participants were able to have an immersion and practice all strategies that they have learned in environmental education in Kirang Elementary School. The activity ended with the formulation of the participating school’s action plan for the year 2017.
Participants in the national training comprise of DepEd educators and Community Leaders.

PNVSCA Executive Director Joselito C. de Vera giving the closing remarks.

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