Press Release
June 5, 2013

Senate oks establishment of rural farm schools

The Senate today approved on third and final reading a bill which seeks to establish farm schools in rural areas to encourage children of farmers to engage in agribusiness. Sen. Edgardo Angara, chairman of the Committee on Education, Arts and Culture and sponsor of Senate Bill 3228, said the proposed measure aims to increase the income of Filipino farmers, who are among the poorest in the society, alongside with fisherfolk.

"Rural farm school is one way of bringing the youth back to farming," Angara said, noting that farmers' children would rather work at call centers or pursue careers in information technology than follow in their father's footsteps due to the high income earned in urban areas as compared to rural areas.

He said the reluctance of the farmers' children to engage in farming was bringing the country's agricultural system to near collapse and was threatening the nation's food security.

"It is important to empower the farmers and fisherfolk through free and accessible agrarian education with emphasis on self-reliance and entrepreneurship," Angara stressed.

He said the establishment of rural farm schools will help train, motivate and equip farmers' children with modern skills of poultry, horticulture and agriculture.

"The measure seeks to address the issue by providing such schools in rural communities and provinces with agriculture as their main source of livelihood," he explained. Angara said the alternative school system seeks to serve the sons and daughters of those who have received land under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP), who will then be prioritized in the establishment of rural farm schools.

Under the proposed measure, Angara said, the child, during his sixth year cycle in high school, would alternate between attending academic courses during the first half of the week while spending the other half of his class week working on the farm to apply the theories he learned in school. He said rural farm schools will have a six-year curriculum with the last two years focusing on farm entrepreneurship to teach students how to make the farm self-sustaining and turn it into a business enterprise. He said business practices and basic financial concepts will be part of the curriculum. "The important thing is that the agricultural productivity of farmers is increased and the new farmers are taught the most modern technology," Angara concluded.

Angara said similar rural farm schools have already been established in Aurora, Lipa, Batnagas and San Carlos in Negros Occidental. Senate Bill 3228 was co-sponsored by Senate Majority Floor Leader Vicente Sotto and Senators Loren Legarda and Gregorio Honasan. (OLIVIA CAUNAN, PRIB)

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