This report is from the Philippines and tells of the work of ICON (Institute for Adult Continuing Eduction). For many years they have been partners with DVV International CASEC (Community Awareness and Services for Ecological Concern) and built up this Community Learning Centre, whose work focuses on the teaching of Permanent Agriculture with Culture (Permaculture), a unique organic farming method. Egay Dy, coordinator of ICON, reports on the work of the institute and its positive impact on the lives of farmers.
In 1989, Community Awareness and Services for Ecological Concern (CASEC) started implementing its Non-Formal Adult Education program to the grassroots in the Province of Bohol, Bukidnon and Agusan del Sur. This is because CASEC was able to comprehend the needs of each and every family within the communities that they were serving.
The cooperation between CASEC and DVV International started back in 1995 and continued for the rest of the following years with the humble support of DVV. It can be recalled that in 1977, one of the prime movers of CASEC was able to participate in the Adult Education workshops launched by DVV for Asian partners which was held in the Federal Republic of Germany. The knowledge and skills gained in the workshop inspired CASEC participants to conceptualize a com munity learning center which later on became the Institute for Continuing Adult Education (ICONE, whose main learning focus is on Permanent Agriculture with Culture (Permaculture).
Permaculture is unique among many alternative farming systems (e.g. organic, sustainable, eco-agriculture and biodynamic) because it works with a set of ethics that encourage people to think and act responsibly in relation to each other and the earth.
ICONE became the center of information on sustainable organic agriculture and as on the practices and experiences of the organized grassroots as well. It is also a legitimate community-based Adult Education center because of accreditation granted by the local government units.
Permaculture ethics provide a sense of peace in the larger scheme of things, and serve as a guidepost to right livelihood in concern with global community and the environment, rather than individualism and indifference.
Based on these ethics, ICONE formulated curricula for the adults and young adults, these are:
a) Permaculture is one of the most holistic, integrated system analysis and design methodologies found in the world.
b) Permaculture can be applied to create productive ecosystems from the human-use standpoint or to help degraded ecosystems recover health and wildness.
c) Permaculture can be applied in any ecosystem, no matter how degraded.
d) Permaculture values and validates traditional knowledge and experience.
e) Permaculture incorporates sustainable agriculture practices and land man agement techniques and strategies from around the world.
f) Permaculture is a bridge between traditional cultures and emergent earth tuned cultures.
g) Permaculture promotes organic agriculture which does not use pesticides to pollute the environment.
h) Permaculture aims to maximize symbiotic and synergistic relationships between site components.
i) Permaculture is urban planning as well as rural land design.
j) Permaculture design has 13 site-specific, client-specific, and culture-specific aims.
The Institute for Continuing Adult Education (ICONE):
a) Is a community based Adult Education center that focuses not only on the production system but rather on land use and community planning philoso phy.
b) Will document grassroots and indigenous experiences that can be used for sustainable living and management.
c) Will take a grassroots political perspective to protect people’s rights and participate in local governance.
d) Will develop the skills and knowledge of the grassroots in a formal way throught education based on a variety of experience and form the grassroots educator.
e) Provide training and education to the marginalized sector of society.
Local government units on their planning stage
Source: Egay C. Dy
ICONE is registered under the Securities and Exchange Commission and accredited by the Training Education Service Development Authority (TESDA) of the Philippines government. This later strengthened the legitimacy and judicial identity of ICONE.
As one of the programs of CASEC, ICONE does not limit its services to only one sector of society, but rather is open to all who aim for progress and development in their lives, livelihood, and living conditions. ICONE’s trainings and teachings were based on the ethics of Permaculture. This is because adults and young adults no longer have time to attend universities and colleges. On the other hand, education is being brought directly to the communities, not to destroy their culture and tradition, but to give a development base to their needs and integrate this with their experiences.
CASEC envisions that ICONE will help improve the community in general, and the family by being the basic unit of society as well as participating in local gov ernance. It also aims to help build alliances and networks of individual grassroots educators so that there will be one system for educating the adults and young adults of each grassroots family.
CASEC have member organizations who are its partners and at the same time the participants in the trainings and seminars conducted and launched by ICONE, and these organizations are:
a ) Candijay Federation of Rural Workers (CFRW) – A federation of community based voluntary organizations who are implementing sustainable organic agriculture.
b) Candijay Farmers Association (CAFAA) – Upland farmers organized for development and progress. c) Women of Candijay for Development – Organization of women and wives of upland farmers.
d ) United Tribal Community in Agusan del Sur – These are organized indig enous groups which include the Manobo Agusanon Tribe, Higaonon Tribe and Kamayo Tribe who are setted in the CARAGA Region, Mindanao, Philippines.
e) Visayan Eskaya Tribal Community – This is the indigenous tribe from Bohol, Philippines whose culture, tradition and present existence is on the brink of extinction.
Aside from this, there are also non-government organizations who participate in trainings and seminars in ICONE, and these are the Bohol Community Assistance Program and their beneficiary farmer organizations and Bohol Alliance of Non-Government Organizations. Through Continuing Adult Education, the participants and their partner organizations were able to strengthen and develop their respective groups.
a) Sustainable Agriculture and Technology (SALT I) – This course teaches upland farmers on hilly land how to farm.
b) Simple Agro-Livestock Land Technology (SALT II) – This course focuses on hilly land farming with livestock integration.
c) Sustainable Agroforestry Land Technology (SALT III) – This course teaches how to integrate fruit and hardwood tree planting.
d) Permaculture Rice Farming – Central focus is on natural rice farming and production of own rice seeds which are based on planting seasons .
e) Gender Mainstreaming – this course focuses on upland villages .
f) Participation of Indigenous Peoples in Governance .
g) Introduction to Permaculture .
h) Nature and spirituality .
i) Family-based Community Development .
j) Small Scale Livestock Management .
k) Alternative Trading and Marketing.
l) Organizational Management.
m) Grassroots Trainers Training – This course aims to transform grassroots participants into community-based facilitators.
Team building workshop
Source: Egay C. Dy
There are four levels of outcome after every education and learning activity. These are:
Ecological education of young adults
Source: Egay C. Dy
The learning and experience that the grassroots acquired through the efforts of ICONE’s Adult Education program heralded initiatives and personal means to alleviate living conditions which in turn ripples into community progress as a whole. It motivated them for visions of long term and continuing progress and development and a wholistic consciousness of the socio-economic, socio cultural and socio-political situation of the community.
For the grassroots, the continuing community based education is one great way to document the facts, data and concrete experiences they have which helped them improve their lives for the benefit of the next generation.
The Institute for Continuing Adult Education is also called “the school for the poor” by the grassroots organization. The fruits of this practical education can be seen in each of the participant’s improvement of life.
Through CASEC and DVV cooperation, the grassroots organization served by CASEC achieved progressive development in their organization as well as in their families. This community based Adult Education center enabled the participants to gain enough confidence, ability and capacity to participate in community under takings. The center also gave the grassroots easy and fast access to information needed for sustainable progress and effective organizational and community management.
Pilarski; Michael (ed) 1994 Restoration Forestry. Kivaki Press Durango, CO. p. 450 (with permission from the author). Tagari Publications 2001 The International Permaculture Institute in Tyalgum. Australia. Permaculture Designer’s Book, The Alternative Global Nation.
Grassroots farmers on their seed germination trial farm
Source: Egay C. Dy
1 Even without financial support from the local government unit, the community-based Adult Education thrived and continued with its programs and thrusts.
2 The grassroots trainers are dynamic and effective educators because they are locally based and have first hand information and knowledge on the local needs and problems of grassroots. Grassroots organizations were established because of Adult Education.
3 The community-based education center is a strategy which enabled impoverished people to access education.
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