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By EDD K. USMAN
(SDN) — THE academe is not to be left out in the nation’s tough battle against the 2019 novel coronavirus disease (Covid-19).
For example, the State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) collectively known as Higher Education Institutions (HEIs). Through the HEIs’ umbrella organization, the Philippine Association of State Universities and Colleges (PASUC) recently held a Digital Summit on August 26 last month.
Especially so that the Philippines has taken the No. 1 position in the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Southeast Asia (SEA).
PASUC President Tirso Ronquillo cited the goal of the virtual gathering that a battery of 310 academic leaders and stakeholders joined in.
Responding to Covid-19 impact
Ronquillo, president of Batangas State University (BatSU) in Batangas City, pointed out the summit served as a platform “for relevant discussions that underscore the mandate of higher education in the country, especially in making research and extension initiatives of SUCs relevant to the needs of the industry and the communities in order to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).”
PASUC’s summit revolved around the theme “Making Research and Extension Work for Covid-19 Response: Innovation Initiatives by Philippine State Universities and Colleges.” It’s the first salvo of the organization’s series of conferences scheduled for 2020. The organization counts on 112 members nationwide.
The PASUC event came as the Johns Hopkins University (JHU) in Maryland, United States, in its global tally of Covid-19 incidence showed the Philippines at the top rank in Southeast Asia as of September 2 with a total of 224,264 cases. Indonesia follows at 177,571 infections.
No wonder that the government’s response has taken the guiding maxim of “We Heal as One.” It needs all the help it can get.
Congress assures support for higher education sector
PASUC received assurances of support from the House of Representatives through House Committee Chairperson on Higher and Technical Education Mark Go.
The solon renewed his support for the higher education sector.
“It’s our goal at Congress to continue being an ally (of) of SUCs in providing quality, innovative and inclusive education for all, even as we brace for the new normal,” Go assured.
The launch of a compendium on SUC Research and Extension titled “Innovating As We Heal As One” highlighted the online gathering.
Various speakers discussed research and extension work on a global perspective by U.S. university experts Prof. Michael Purugganan of New York University (NYU) and the president of the Philippine-American Academy of Science and Engineering (PAASE) Dr. Gisela Concepcion.
Other speakers included Mariano Marcos Memorial State University (MMMSU) President Shirley Agrupis, Cebu Technological University (CTU) President Rosein Ancheta Jr., and Caraga State University (CSU) President Anthony Penaso shared on-the-ground experiences in driving research and innovation to combat the pandemic.
USAID and PASUC collaboration
United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Office of Education Director Thomas LeBlanc congratulated PASUC as he voiced appreciation for the longstanding partnership between USAID and PASUC.
“We at USAID are proud to learn that several of these universities have been or are partners of our Science, Technology, Research and Innovation for Development program or STRIDE. Through the visionary leadership of Dr. Tirso Ronquillo, we worked together on PASUC’s own innovation roadmap as well as the Innovation Diagnostics that would help you become more attuned to what your institutions need and to become more competitive,” said LeBlanc.
Working with government, academic institutions, and industries since 2013, the STRIDE Program is a higher education project of USAID Philippines to support the country’s path towards innovation-led inclusive growth. (✓)