The Philippine government-hosted Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) and Spain’s Asociación de Centros de Formación Profesional (FPEmpresa) inked a five-year agreement for collaboration in vocational education and training (VET) in a virtual signing ceremony on January 24, 2024.
FPEmpresa is a nonprofit association of Spain’s public, semi-private and private VET centers. On the other hand, SEARCA is a nonprofit organization by the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization (SEAMEO) to provide graduate education as well as promote, undertake, and coordinate research in agriculture. Spain is an associate member country of SEAMEO, SEARCA’s mother organization.
Signatories to the MOU are SEARCA Director Glenn Gregorio and FPEmpresa President and board member Luis García Domínguez.
Gregorio said under the MOU, SEARCA and FPEmpresa will collaborate on capacity development programs, such as mobilities and training, as well as on knowledge resource projects, by connecting FPEmpresa’s VET centers to SEARCA or specific schools and organizations from the latter’s network of partners and stakeholders.
“This partnership contributes to fulfilling SEARCA’s vision to reach wider networks of partners and stakeholders. SEARCA and FPEmpresa share a common goal of bringing together various stakeholder groups to create a community of best practices and build capacity toward sustainable development,” Gregorio said.
He also expressed hopes that the partnership will spark more collaborations between SEARCA and Spain.
Domínguez affirmed this as he sees the identified collaborative activities as the first step in improving VET in Spain and initially in the Philippines.
The signing ceremony was also attended by some FPEmpresa board members and international project staff, as well as SEARCA staff who have been involved in the series of discussions to identify the initial collaborations between the two organizations.
Facilitating the discussions between the two institutions, Jimeno Ortas attested to everyone’s commitment to fostering international cooperation “to open doors to new possibilities for our teachers and students alike.”
“The MOU is an instrument to unite organizations sharing common interests in the pursuit of excellence in vocational training and higher education related to agricultural studies,” she said, emphasizing its significance for all the governments the attendees represent.
Smithson has also been in all the discussions leading up to the signing of the MOU. He mentioned some of these activities and thanked the Embassy of Spain for linking the two institutions.
Dr. Nur Azura Adam, SEARCA Deputy Director for Programs, also shared some initial steps taken about these activities and expressed excitement about what lies ahead for the SEARCA-FPEmpresa partnership this year.