Posted tagged ‘training’

FORESTRY EDUCATION & TRAINING UPDATE

October 6, 2008

Erle Frayne Argonza

Forestry education is among those human development engagements that are urgently being delivered today.

A study done in Kenya, by Temu A & Kiwia A, examined how future forestry education can respond to expanding societal needs. The study is summarized below.

[04 October 2008, Quezon City, MetroManila. Thanks to Eldis database reports.]

Future forestry education. Responding to expanding societal needs

Authors: Temu,A.; Kiwia,A.
Produced by: World Agroforestry Centre (2008)

Forestry education in recent years has largely failed to adequately respond to the dynamics in forestry practice, the demands of the job market and the challenges of new global forestry paradigms.

This policy brief consolidates recommendations of the first global workshop on forestry education held in September 2007, at the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) in Nairobi, Kenya. Attended by 85 participants from 29 countries representing Africa, Asia, North and South America and Europe, the workshop deliberated on vital issues for guiding, coordinating and linking relevant institutions and stakeholders in the process of transforming forestry education. They agreed that:

  • increased investment in forestry capacity is imperative
  • improved coordination mechanisms are key at national, regional and global scales to reinforce the quality and content of forestry education and training
  • enhanced harmonisation of forestry with other related sectors is needed in order to achieve synergy of strategies and actions
  • regional and global mechanisms for collaboration in forestry education be established and sustained

The brief asserts that major changes in forestry education, research and practice are urgently needed to improve relevance and popularise forest science, technologies and practices. Obvious implications for neglecting forestry education are noted as:

  • schools of forestry will continue to produce inadequate graduates, lacking the required expertise to handle the emerging complex societal and environmental challenges
  • forestry professional ethics could deteriorate further, leading to indiscriminate destruction of natural resources – the backbone of human livelihood
  • due to the link between agriculture and forestry, the destruction of forests may lead to water flow challenges impacting on food security
  • our knowledge and capacity to mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change will remain weak, further accelerating global warming, flash floods and droughts
  • further losses of biodiversity will deny the world of important plants and animals with the potential to solve health and other problems

Available online at: http://www.eldis.org/cf/rdr/?doc=39445&em=240908&sub=enviro

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US GENERAL: AFGHANISTAN’S A FAILURE, STRESSES DEVELOPMENT

August 22, 2008

Erle Frayne Argonza

Good day!

A retired US general recently spoke about the overall conduct of war in Afghanistan. To the surprise and chagrin of defense experts and officials, the general most candidly declared that Afghanistan was a disaster.

The retired general spoke more like a development expert than a uniformed defense official. Accordingly, there is no military solution to Afghanistan’s problems. The ideas proposed by the same (ret) uniformed official combine relief and rehab, infrastructures, and capacity-building efforts, or those solutions that have to do more with a total development package. This is a clear departure from the demented thinking in Pentagon and DC that tend to exacerbate the destructive facets of US engagements in Afghanistan.

Below is the news item about the (ret) official’s pronouncements.

[18 August 2008, Quezon City, MetroManila. Thanks to Executive Intelligence Review database news.]

McCaffrey: Afghanistan Disaster, Unless We Send in the Engineers

Aug. 7, 2008 (EIRNS)—Retired Gen. Barry McCaffrey, who often functions as an informal advisor to senior Army leadership on the current wars, reported on the disaster in Afghanistan following his July 21-26 trip to that country and to NATO headquarters in Belgium. In a memo dated July 30, addressed to the Social Sciences department at West Point, McCaffrey writes: “Afghanistan is in misery.” Sixty-eight percent of the population has never known peace, life expectancy is only 44, and Afghanistan has the highest maternal death rate in the world, he reports. The security situation, the economy (including agriculture, which is “broken”), governance, and the opium problems, are “all likely to get worse in the coming 24 months.”

There is no military solution, McCaffrey writes: “The atmosphere of terror cannot be countered mainly by military means. We cannot win through a war of attrition…. Afghanistan will not be solved by the addition of two or three more US combat brigades from our rapidly unraveling Army.”

Instead, McCaffrey argues that, in addition to building up the Afghan security forces, economic measures are also required. He calls for the deployment of a “five battalion Army engineer brigade… to lead a five year road building effort employing Afghan contractors and training and mentoring Afghan engineers…. The war will be won when we fix the Afghan agricultural system which employs 82% of the population…. The war will be won when the international community demands the eradication of the opium and cannibis crops and robustly supports the development of alternative economic activity.” McCaffrey pointed to the tremendous growth in the poppy crop since the US invasion in 2001 and warned that “Unless we deal head-on with this enormous cancer, we should have little expectation that our efforts in Afghanistan will not eventually come to ruin.” On Pakistan, McCaffrey warns against a US military intervention in that country from across the border in Afghanistan, which he says “would be a political disaster. We will imperil the Pakistani government’s ability to support our campaign. They may well stop our air and ground logistics access across Pakistan and place our entire NATO presence in severe jeopardy.” In dealing with Pakistan, “We must do no harm…” 

HUMAN CAPITAL: PEOPLE ARE MOST VALUABLE

April 28, 2008

 

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

 

[Writ 23 March 2008, Quezon City, MetroManila]

 

New Nationalism, as I argued in the foundational article of mine, must also reckon with people as the most important assets of economy and society. The contention cogitated from the vantage point of human capital.

 

I already elucidated in the portion on ‘basic needs’ that people matter most. Interestingly, in Maoist China, this human capital contention was elevated to the level of cult: the cult of the masses. Mao Zedong himself declared as an adage that “people not things are most decisive.” Many poems and songs were written by the youth vanguards of Mao’s revolution, and this literary-cultural explosion centering on the populist adage spilled over to other developing states as well.

 

Shorn of the cult portion of the adage, the Maoist line makes sense. It coheres with various similar articulations of the same by experts in other countries representing diverse fields notably community development, business administration, and public administration. Today it has become one of the core elements of development: human capital is among the forms of capital needed to pursue development.

 

Much of asset valorizations have so far been premised on finance capital being the core of values. This has to be revised, and I’m very strong in this cogitation for a revision of accounting systems to include human capital.

 

Not only that, there also is ‘social capital’ that operates on the level of the collective which, without doubt, factors in very strongly in development pursuits. It is the core of synergism: building trust through cooperation. This, to my mind, must also be translated in calculable form.

 

The discourse was elaborated via the core contention that is quoted en toto below.

 

People are the most important assets, revise accounting systems!

 

The prevailing mindset perceives assets in terms of physical assets (estates, chattel, monies). Ownership is then defined in terms of right to control and dispose of such assets. Wealth is computed in terms of the values, calibrated through price, created through the utilization of the physical assets. For a while, the classicists introduced the notion of ‘labor theory’ of value, premised upon the value-producing powers of labor. But the efforts of the classicists failed to get translated into acceptable accounting systems, as such systems have always been based on physical assets and prices.

 

Look at what is happening among various agencies, especially business firms: there is a lot of ‘pirating’ of people going on among them! Likewise are there efforts to retrieve those same people ‘pirated’ by competing agencies. The same event holds true for the state and NGO sectors: ‘piracy’ on grand scales! This phenomenon is a clear manifestation that people, not physical assets, are the most important of all in an organization. When an agency loses good personnel, the effect is instantly debilitating, a debilitation that can be offset only through the timely arrival of replacements who are as good as the ones who left. The converse is also true: when an agency needs people to shore up its output levels, ‘pirate’ high-achievers from other agencies most especially those who have “made a name” in the sector concerned. The piracy of people in the entertainment world is even more instructive in indicating to us the central import of people, not physicals, as value producers. We need not belabor the point that the ‘piracy’ strategy comes often in the form of higher pay scales and incentives.

 

That is why it pays so much to manage people well, and to design new organizational principles that would bring out the maximum potencies of people most specially the highly talented ones. Bureaucracies have become outdated dinosaurs, as ‘flat organizations’ have become the wave of the present: the new organizations make plenty of room for self-initiatives, resourcefulness and innovativeness by good staff. Bureaucracies, which follow from only two principles—vertical (hierarchy) and horizontal—can stifle innovativeness, as experiences have shown. The ‘task master’ mindset and ‘boss mentality’, as well as the excessive stress on routinary processes, have turned off many achiever personnel most specially the highly talented ones whose nature of work is ‘symbolic/analytic’ (to use Reich’s term). Today, new principles are emerging that are leading to a massive ‘re-engineering of the organization’, such as Total Quality Management or TQM, web organizational structure, team work principles and ‘human resource empowerment’.

 

Yet inspite of such revolutionary changes and explosion of amazingly appropriate principles about organizations and human resources, no changes are happening in the accounting systems that can correspondingly reproduce the organizational principles taking place. The only appreciable concept is that of GDP Purchasing Power Parity or PPP, which computes total income on the basis of purchasing power of local consumers relative to those of the world’s strongest economy. Using the GDP-PPP, the Philippines’ GDP stood at $379 Billions as of the end of 2003, with GDP-PPP per capita at around $4,600 more or less. (See The World Factbook, 2004, for such index reports.) But this indexing does not in any way address the accounting question raised here.

 

Should the notion of ‘human capital’ become popular, the accounting system should consequently follow. The notions of ownership would then change, indicating the revolutionary implications of the paradigm shift. Those pretending ‘radicals’ of the day, many of whom are steeped in 19th century socialist thought, tend to view the asset realm from the focal lenses of antiquated Victorian-era ownership concepts, and are no less conservative than the oligarchs they sordidly hate. They offer no radical solutions beyond changing (antiquated) asset ownership, strategies that eventually stifle innovativeness and human expression, as criminal Stalinist regimes have shown. New Nationalism must take on the challenge of presenting a far more revolutionary concept that can, in the end, contribute to evolving a strong base of ‘human capital’, ‘social capital’ and ‘strong nation’.

 

BRO. ERLE FRAYNE ATTENDS SOCIAL TECHNOLOGY SEMINAR

April 28, 2008

Bro.  Erle Frayne Argonza attended the social technologies seminar sponsored by the Pi Gamma Mu last 18th of January 2008. The resource speaker was no other than Dr. Cesar Mercado, the country’s main advocate today of social technology. The seminar was held at the College of Mass Communication Auditorium of the U.P. Diliman.

 

Social technology refers to ‘know-how’ as applications of social science principles. The equivalent in the physical sciences are ‘physical technologies, while those in the biological sciences are ‘bio-technologies’ or biotech.

 

The Philippines had already accumulated many social technologies across the decades, such as those utilized for development engagements. However, the term ‘social technology’ itself is a newly coined one. The reason for this rather late coinage of the term is the ambivalence or fear associated with ‘technology’ as applied to the human dimension.

 

Dr. Mercado clarified that there is no reason to fear the use of the term at all. It’s just a matter of using a label for already existing practices. The use of a formal label will redound to better popularization of the technologies, and will enable Filipino experts in particular to compete with those of the developed countries’ experts who are way ahead in the practical sphere.

 

Dr. Mercado then elaborated on examples of social technologies. In the field of business, the term commonly used is ‘best practices’.  Dr. Mercado clarified that they are one and the same. Such practices are social technologies.

 

Dr. Mercado also proceeded to clarify many issues, aside from exhibiting examples of social technologies. Among these was the issue of ‘world class’, to which he cautioned the participants about blind adoption of the same category. 

 

The core speaker, Dr. Mercado, recommended that a national society be formed that will be the chief campaign advocate for social technologies. Bro. Erle Argonza, who is supportive of social technology production and advocacy, agrees very much with this institutional requisite to advance social technologies.

 

During the open forum, Bro. Erle Argonza raised the observation of an ‘over-institutionalization fatigue’.  Marginal folks have gotten tired of community organizing and other related capacity-building efforts. This phenomenon had caused snags in many projects in the field from the mid-90s onwards. Dr. Mercado replied with an analytical thought, and remarked that it’s time we slow down a bit in our development efforts as over-dynamics had produced the observed backfire.

 

It proved to be a very meaningful and substantive occasion, coming as it is on the Centennial Anniversary of the U.P. Dr. Mercado was a retired professor and administrator of the U.P. (C. Mass Comm.), former UNICEF official, and founder/CEO of the Development Center for Asia Africa Pacific or DCAAP. The DCAAP, an international ‘think-tank’, is among the few institutions in the Philippines that have been active in innovating on social technologies.

 

[By A & A Consultants, Jan. 2008, Manila]