By Noel Dolor
MANILA — The Philippine Cooperative Centre (PCC) has become the unifying and transforming voice of the cooperative movement in the country, among whose fortes include advocacy in helping raise the profile, as well as the active role of cooperatives in different government projects as well as on the Senate and House of Representatives levels.
Then you have the Polytechnic Institute of the Philippines (PUP), which is one of the pioneers of specialized higher learning in the field of cooperative development.
Put them together and what have you got? A very reliable and invaluable partnership that has been around for over three decades aimed at strengthening and putting to function the spirit, benefits, and plus points of cooperative as an effective, highly pragmatic tool in socio-economic development and transformation among Filipinos—only to be renewed, thanks to a memorandum of agreement (MOA) forged between PCC and PUP last January 14, followed by an online press conference last February 2.
Its renewed partnership will indeed inject more dynamism for both PCC and PUP as they partner to promote quality cooperative education, research capability, technical assistance, and other cooperative-related services that are deemed responsive and relevant to the needs of the cooperative movement among students majoring in Bachelor of Cooperative Studies.
Moreso, as the movement and coop students, face the complex, yet exciting challenges wrought by the rapid socio-economic shifts that took place over the last two decades alone.
Closely related to this development is Republic Act No. 11364 that seeks to strengthen and reorganize the governing agency of the cooperative sector, the Cooperative Development Authority (CDA). This act expressly provides for the strengthening of partnership among CDA, the cooperative sector, and the academe. The renewal of the MOA between PCC and PUP is a clear manifestation of the collective intent to strengthen the said partnership.
According to Dr. Hilda F. San Gabriel, Chairperson, PUP Department of Cooperatives and Social Development, part of the responsibilities that PUP will undertake include:
-identifying and assigning faculty-trainers and staff to provide support and assistance to the movement in the fields of research, consultations, publications, research, consultations, publication, and extension services such as technical advisory and assistance;
-identifying and assigning student-trainees and volunteers to assist PCC in conducting activities, especially in research, organized for community cooperatives and partner agencies; and
-partnering with PCC in the deployment of Bachelor in Cooperative Studies students under the on-the-job-training (OJT), immersion and internship programs of the institute’s Department of Cooperatives and Social Development.
“These classes will not be face-to-face but online, including OJT, due to the pandemic. PUP will also be that bridge between PCC and the Cooperative Development Authority (CDA) in other activities that include research, membership training, and the development of marketing materials, among others. The students will then make mandatory reports. Once the students have completed their coop studies, there is a possibility that they can work for or get engaged in cooperatives, as the next breed of coop managers and/or leaders.
“This partnership represents a great opportunity which manifests that even amidst the pandemic, the learning process never stops. It is also the first online OJT for the movement,” proudly stressed Dr. San Gabriel.
PCC’s role, as detailed by its Chairperson, Dr. Garibaldi O. Leonardo, is to provide the necessary logistical assistance/support in implementing programs/activities such as research and exchange of information useful and beneficial to both parties; to extend and to facilitate training opportunities to qualified PUP students among its affiliates in OJT, immersion, research and internship programs, and to facilitate employment in coops if available through PCC’s endorsement or to facilitate the tapping of business opportunities they can get in; to make available the information and reading materials that will aid students in their research, and to assist in the dissemination/networking of PUP’s programs and recommended policy measures that will benefit the coop movement as a whole.
Enthusiastically added Dr. Leonardo: “Engaging the youth and engaging in digitization are two major imperatives not only with PCC, but the entire coop movement. There is also the need to engage the youth in cooperative undertakings in order to make coops a bit younger, adding that admittedly the coop movement is an aging population,” to which Dr. San Gabriel agreed, adding that “the seniors are there to inspire and provide guidance as they engage the youth,” whose forte is adopting and embracing digital innovations.
Let us also consider the so-called ‘multiplier effect’ that these tech-savvy youth can equally bring. As they reach out to their contemporaries via the wonders of apps, laptops, smartphones, and what have you available at the touch of a finger, they can also help—as Dr. San Gabriel suggested and of which the PCC Chair also expressed his delight in— towards the creation of online groups that, in turn, will encourage other institutions without coop courses to offer it.
On a much broader scale, let us also imagine how these online coop groups will discuss, promote and outline the merits that the cooperative movement has to offer while sharing invaluable inputs about the basics of cooperatives, how they can help instill best practices in cooperative management, how cooperatives do their role in the communities they serve through their humanitarian deeds, how to start-up coop owned-and operated enterprises that could spur countryside development—or anything about the movement from A to Z, of which the courses are definitely very enriching and enlightening to mind, spirit and soul!
As the opportunities for enhancing cooperative through online education look encouraging, who knows, these very same youth can also promote cooperative education even at elementary and high school levels through yet still more online groups via their smart gadgets. An educational scenario that can equally win in several ways that indeed will generate a new breed of cooperators (AI/MTVN)