Distance Learning Using Radio: The Case of School-on-the-Air

Distance Learning Using Radio: The Case of School-on-the-Air

Recently I was in Sta. Maria, Ilocos Sur for the mass graduation of season-long School-on-the-Air on Sustainable Rice Production. Upon reading that first statement your initial question might be – ‘Where is Sta. Maria, Ilocos Sur?’ and your second question might be -‘Is it near Vigan?’

If you check google maps, Sta. Maria is almost 40 Kilometer away from Vigan City, so you can just imagine how far it is from Manila. An overnight travel by bus is required just to get there. This ought to answer your first two questions.

And for your next question I was hoping that you’d be curious and ask ‘What is School-on-the-air?

The School-On-The-Air or SOA is an alternative method for learning which uses the radio as a medium to reach clients who are interested to learn, use and practice new technologies. It is aired season-long in time for the farming season of the focused commodity, thus it provides a step-by-step guide for farmers at every crop stage. In short it uses radio in delivering information to farmers and fishers.

The Agricultural Training Institute (ATI) as the training arm of Department of Agriculture (DA) uses SOA as one of its delivery channel for its extension services. Some of the SOA already conducted by the ATI-Regional Training Centers (ATI-RTC) were on organic agriculture, soybean production, cassava, corn production, and many more.

SOA is a popular extension activity employed by the ATI maybe next to the traditional face to face training. Generally it is one of the cheap ways of disseminating information but the reach is far wider.

During the SOA graduation I was immersed on the dynamics on how to conduct a season-long SOA. Coordination is very essential in order to have a successful SOA. In the case of ATI-RTC in Ilocos Region (ATI-RTC I) coordination with the LGU and its host school was one of the reasons the SOA on Sustainable Rice Production was a success.

I got a first-hand look on how ATI staff together with the municipal agriculture officers from the different municipalities of Ilocos Sur workedk hand in hand during the mass graduation ceremony. I am sure that during the conduct of the season-long SOA they had exerted double efforts just to guarantee a successful SOA.

I saw in the faces of the graduates’ genuine happiness as they received their certificates of completion. Imagine! You have participated in a free training, learned just by listening to your radio and being recognized to have completed a season-long training on sustainable rice production. Not to mention free snacks and lunch during the graduation ceremonies. Wala nang talo di ba. Everybody wins. You already learned for free at nabusog pa ang graduates.

So if you happen to catch a broadcast of SOA one of these days, don’t hesitate to participate. You have everything to gain and nothing to lose.

Postscript: I already mentioned that Sta. Maria is very near to Vigan City, that’s why after the SOA mass graduation, we visited Vigan together with Maam Niet (My boss) and staff from ATI-RTC I (Ms. Mariel, Frank and Ralph). In Vigan, one thing you should not miss is to try their local delicacy. Of course we tried the famous Ilocos empanada and sinanglaw.  It was worth the side trip to Vigan just to eat these delicacies.