Merrian B. Piquero

In her article the author describes a seven-month “Grassroots Trainors Training Program” (GTTP). The programme is based on five-module design for training adult educators. It was carried out by CASEC with funding from the IIZ/DVV. The author is a freelance writer based in Cagayan de Oro City, Mindanao, Philippines. She was once a research in-charge of CASEC, Inc. in the Philippines from 1993 to 2001. She was the course director of the Grassroots Trainors Training Program, and among those responsible for the molding of the grassroots trainors’ pool.

The Gem of Adult Education in Bohol, Philippines

A GTTP Experience

 

“True wisdom cannot be learned from formal schools or lengthy training, it can be identified with the true intentions of the heart.” (Anonymous)

 

The Gateway to Experience…

To conduct education-training work was not part of the offer. June 1, 1993, exactly three months from college graduation, was my first day of service at Community Awareness and Services for Ecological Concern, Inc. – Philippines (CASEC), a non-stock, non-profit, non-govern- ment organization based in Tagbilaran City, Bohol, Philippines.

The reason for accepting the job was merely to explore new horizons in the field of extension services. Especially that the offer was on a temporary basis – five months.

I was hired as relief to the staff member who was on study leave in Manila. She had her examination as a certified public accountant.

With the kind of job I was in, the experience was indeed heartwarming. I was directed to produce five project proposals on livelihood and environmental protection. With little knowledge of technical writing, I was able to do it through the help of my colleagues and other available data sources.

With CASEC, every day is a learning process. The activity never stops, while links are wide and well established. In my second week of work, a letter of invitation arrived from Trainors Collective Incorporated (TCI), a non-governmental organization based on Quezon City. One staff member and potential leader from the people’s organization were invited to attend a seven-day training-seminar, all expenses paid.

Due to the immediacy of the schedule, participants’ confirmation should be made right away. It was such short notice that most of the staff were in field. Thus, nobody could represent the staff level. To save the activity, I was summoned to be one of the participants while Nena Suarez represented the leader-beneficiary level (who was later hired to join the human resources of CASEC).

The Journey Begins…

On June 20, 1993, Nena and I flew to Manila via Philippine Air Lines to attend the seven-day seminar on Introductory Course for Trainors, which was scheduled on June 21–27, 1993. We arrived at the venue in the evening of June 20th.

Without any mental baggage of what would be the outcome of the seminar, I participated with the objective of enhancing my personal growth and training capacity.

June 21 came. The first activity was the leveling of expectations among learners and trainers. There, we realized that the main objective of the training-seminar was to know the basics in conducting training and to produce grassroots trainers in the area. I was excited to learn these objectives. The plan turned out to be a long-term program.

Knowing this, I had second thoughts about finishing the activity. However, to compensate the expenses incurred in our coming to Manila and not to spoil the activity, I participated in the training with utmost enthusiasm.

The outline was presented to us – we were glad to learn the five modules. Module I consisted of the Framework and Concepts of Development Education. Here, the role of adult education was well explained, with emphasis on advocacy continuing education. It showed how adult education can produce a dynamic output amongst potential grassroots leaders who were not able to take formal schooling.

Module II, on the other hand, elucidated the step-by-step process in developing a Training Program. The simple technique of formulating a program objective was emphasized, while, the Training Needs Analysis process was also illustrated. It was further reiterated that identifying the gap or the training need should be considered first to come up with a positive outcome.

After all the important factors in Modules II and I, Module III discussed the Methods, Techniques and Aids. Here, it was accentuated how effective training can be with visual aids and actual exercises. The learners enjoyed planning different concepts of disseminating the message, from charts, cutouts, comic strips to structured learning experiences and other activities whose main thrust was to reach out and deliver the message.

Module IV provided exercises and tips on how to have well-coordinated training management. The role of every facilitator towards adult educators was also given importance. The relationship between facilitators and learners was dramatized in order to equip trainers with the strategies to handle untoward behaviours that hinder smooth operation.

Finally, Training Monitoring and Evaluation was spelled out in Module V. Here, the role of training management was thoroughly discussed so that the participants were able to grasp the totality of the training cycle where their task is not merely to implement but to monitor and evaluate the results at the same time.

The seven-day training seminar indeed produced a dynamic cycle among participants. It provided a lot of learning on how to conduct and manage continuing adult education. We learned how adult education can match if not compete with those taught in formal universities and colleges.

Upon returning home, all of us brought the newly acquired transformation of notions concerning adult education. And the challenge of molding a grassroots trainers pool was at hand.

The New Endeavour and its Challenge…

The newly acquired learning in Manila was re-echoed to fellow staff. Remarks were heard among them signifying support to the new endeavour.

The confusion in my heart was at the same time aired also. It turned out that the management needed to extend my services after the program terminated. Hence, the implementation went on smoothly.

Since Nena and I were the trained individuals, we had a direct linkage with TCI in terms of the actual conduct in the area, while on the management level it was between CASEC and TCI.

The first activity was the translation of modules into vernacular dialect. Since “Bisaya or Cebuano” is the native language in Bohol, it was designed to fit the needs of the would-be learners.

All of us spent time doing drafts and submitting these for corrections to experts in order to come up with a concrete package of materials.

After having finished, the first consultation workshop was held on October 8-10, 1993 at Candijay Training Center, Poblacion, Candijay, Bohol. It was a three-day activity and participated in by 22 selected leader-participants from the different areas in Bohol where CASEC extended its support.

The objective of the Grassroots Trainors Training Program (GTTP) was explained together with the rationale of producing a local pool of facilitators. Most of the leader-participants showed eagerness for the program. They came out with a manifesto signifying their willingness to finish the seven-month intensive training.

The Realization of the Manifesto…

Since part of the purpose of the Grassroots Trainors Training Program (GTTP) was to produce grassroots trainers, around sixty farmer-leaders participated in the activity.

As the course progressed, the number of participants dwindled due to two main reasons. One was farm-related since they could not sacrifice the farm activities. And the other was family-related.

Though a lot of hardships were met during the seven-month intensive training, the experience and learning were worthwhile.

The would-be grassroots trainers were very enthusiastic in their actual conduct of the training. They enjoyed a lot the preparation of their training designs and visual aids.

During the training proper, various emotions were painted on the participants’ faces. Some walked from one corner to the other while others jumped as if preparing themselves for a hard-hitting battle in order to eliminate the strange feelings inside.

As trainers, the joy of fulfillment was in us. Seeing grassroots trainers do their share of advocacy was indeed a success, like the conduct of training needs analysis, objective formulation and the actual facilitation.

These people showed a daily transformation so that the management team saw in them good and positive lessons in handling grassroots training.

The only difficulty I saw in them was written work on modules and training designs for the felt needs of the member-beneficiaries. But all of these were not a hindrance because they all persevered to do it.

Thus, in actual practice they did not experience stress in facilitating the technology transfer needed. This was because they could directly and easily relay their experiences. The town-to-town and barangay-to-barangay training was remembered by these grassroots trainers because they were able to do it by themselves.

The Realization of Dreams…

After much emotional stress the 22 successful grassroots trainers were able to overcome obstacles.

And after all of those hardships, their effort was commended with a graduation ceremony signifying their being a fully fledged Grassroots Trainors Pool in Bohol, Philippines, and the date to remember is March 20, 1994.

This project funded by the DVV produced of both personal growth and development among the grassroots in the countryside. Self-esteem and confidence were built, dreams came true and lives were changed.