Historical Background PDF Print E-mail

Extension is one of the four-fold functions of the University of Southern Mindanao. Along with research and agro-industrial production, extension is supportive of the University's main function of instruction.

As soon as the Mindanao Institute of Technology (MIT), now the University of Southern Mindanao, was opened, extension was already recognized as one of its functions, being a state land grant college. However, there was no formal structure yet. Extension was performed mostly upon request of organized groups and individual end-users of farm technologies. The department head of the Agriculture Department and later on, chairman of the Agricultural Education and Extension Department was in-charge of the extension services. Most of the extension services were on the distribution of planting materials (seeds and seedlings), either free of charge or at a minimal cost.

It was during the first decade of MIT's existence that rubber planting was popularized under the administrative leadership of MIT President Dominador D. Clemente, who took over the helm of the administration in 1958. He initiated the establishment and expansion of a rubber nursery. New high yielding clones were imported from Malaysia. Later on, planters from as far as Zamboanga provinces procured budded seedlings from MIT. Correspondingly, rubber technicians were requested from the college to assist in establishing rubber plantations elsewhere in Mindanao. As a support mechanism, a one-year post-secondary curriculum on Rubber Technology was instituted. Graduates of that curriculum were in high demand as a result of the expanding rubber plantations in Mindanao.

As part of academic work, field laboratory in the course "Methods of Extension" was undertaken by the students in nearby barangays under the guidance of their professor.

TOWARDS A FORMAL EXTENSION PROGRAM

Extension was formalized with the advent of the United Nations Educational and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) program entitled "Strengthening Agricultural Education at the Mindanao Institute of Technology." This was a five-year UNESCO assisted program in 1965-1970. The UNESCO Team included extension and farm management experts and other supportive personnel such as those in agronomy, animal science, engineering, home economics and farm mechanization. With local counterparts from among the faculty, extension projects were set up in some selected barangays. In certain cases, the local extension staff counterparts took over and continued the extension activities set up by the UNESCO in the selected barangays.

The other catalyses of extension with which the MIT forged working linkage were the Southeast Asia Regional Center for Agriculture (SEARCA); National Manpower and Youth Council (NMYC); Agricultural Education Outreach Program (AEOP), and others.

In connection with the voluntary rural services required by the government, a community-centered outreach program dubbed as "Project BEAUTIFULL" was undertaken by USM key personnel at Barangay Sagcongan, President Roxas, North Cotabato.

The USM-SEARCA Social Laboratory, a five-year assisted program, was a replication of the SEARCA pilot program in Pila, Laguna, in cooperation with the University of the Philippines at Los Baños, Laguna (UPLB) extension unit.

The USM-SEARCA Social Laboratory was implemented in the selected barangays (Bannawag, Dagupan, and Upper Paatan). Being a comprehensive development program, the social laboratory was implemented by a technical team consisting of agronomists, animal husbandmen, and agricultural economists.

The NMYC-Assisted project was entitled "National Agricultural Skills Training Project (NASTP)". The beneficiaries included out-of-school youths and adults in Barangays Cuyapon, and Magatos, Kabacan and New Antique, Mlang, Cotabato.

The AEOP, a USAID-Assisted project, was a tie-up development program between USM and the then Department of Education, Culture and Sports (DECS). Beneficiaries included farmer leaders and out-of-school youths. Practicum students were also involved by assigning each of them to a farmer cooperator in preparing farm budget and in farm management. (RTC-RD), now the Agricultural Training Institute (ATI). In certain cases, training programs were funded by sponsoring agencies, either local or foreign. Lecturers or resource persons in agriculture and social sciences were tapped from among the USM faculty.

Organized groups invariably requested in-campus trainings and seminars on various subjects at varying periods. This scheme of extension activity was undertaken in close coordination with the Regional Training Center for Rural Development (RTC-RD), now the Agricultural Training Institute (ATI). In certain cases, training programs were funded by sponsoring agencies, either local or foreign. Lecturers or resource persons in agriculture and social sciences were tapped from among the USM faculty.

AFFORDING COMPREHENSIVE EXTENSION PROGRAMS AND SERVICES

At the turn of the 21st century, the challenge being posed to higher educational institutions (HEIs) in the country is to deliver not only quality instruction but also to address the gaps between research and extension. It has been observed that research outputs oftentimes are not translated into useful source of information and technology for the improvement in the quality of life. In the advent of technological change, service providers of extension programs are greatly confronted to contribute in the realization of various local, regional, national and global agenda towards sustainable development.

The effectiveness of any extension endeavor is made possible with strong leadership of knowledge generators and people making an impact. The need of time is to seriously look at the real and felt needs of target beneficiaries and partner communities. The faculty, staff, students and researchers are highly encouraged to be deeply involved in community partnership, linkaging and networking in order to sustain extension initiatives. The real essence of USM is making herself more visible with greater impact to its environs and constituents it serves.

In the current context, one of the challenges to HEIs is to take initiatives that will help connect the classroom to the community, and in the process, infuse undergraduate and graduate education with the kind of real-world, problem-solving exercises that enhance student comprehension. As stipulated in CHED Handbook on Typology, Outcomes Based-Education (OBE) and Institutional Sustainability Assessment (ISA), a university like USM is “to contribute to nation building by providing highly specialized educational experiences to train experts in the various technical and disciplinal areas and by emphasizing the development of new knowledge and skills through research and development.” Moreover, in order to attain its mandate, universities should have: 

- Outreach activities that allow the students, faculty, and research staff to apply the new knowledge they generate to address specific social development problems, broadly defined.

In the ISA Framework, one of the key result areas that a university should consider is a strong “relations with the community (extra-curricular linkages, service learning, outreach).” In this context, the USM-ESC as a support unit to its academic endeavor towards excellence in community engagement will serve as a provider of extension programs that are responsive to the needs of the community for people empowerment and self-reliance.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 12 September 2018 13:09
 
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