Wanni’s primary need: Committed Rural Social Leaders
What is SEARSOLIN doing in this field of development activity?
An observation from Bavan Maheswarakurukkal, University of Jaffna
Courtesy: JDCSI Newsletter
The Southeast Asia Rural Social Leadership Institute (SEARSOLIN) of the College of Agriculture of Xavier University in the Philippines trains every year rural social workers to promote sustainable development through leadership formation from the grass roots in South, Southeast and East Asia as well as from some countries in Africa and the Pacific Island nations.
The essence of the training is its pursuit to form leaders with conscience, competence and commitment; leaders with a clear vision and the social skills needed for the development of the tasks ahead. It is not only a training centre incorporated with the College of Agriculture of Xavier University with a time-tested programme but it is also a continuing fellowship among development workers in the field in the various countries it is focused on in the developing world.
The SEARSOLIN story begins with the Rev Fr William Masterson, the founding father of Xavier University College of Agriculture and SEARSOLIN. His vision is best explained by what he stated in 1983:
“If we would understand something of the uniqueness of SEARSOLIN, it will be best found in the germinal concepts of the College of Agriculture Complex of Xavier University . . . . . our role was to help achieve the fullest human development possible through income generated by increased national, rural production, and to help insure a more equitable return to the primary producer of the added value that enhanced production by means of sound, rural institutions.
“Critical in that multiple objective had to be a vigorous and comprehensive philosophy of man, a philosophy of the land, and a philosophy of work. With all the implications of these philosophies at work, we found ourselves deeply involved in PRODUCTION EDUCATION that is the best utilization of one’s providential, God-given talents, within and through God’s creation.
“Stemming likewise from those philosophies is the social nature that subsequently brings about his/her LEADERSHIP role. So from the start, the formation objective of the Xavier University College of Agriculture Complex was to produce a graduate both from scientifically competent and socially dedicated.”
The SEARSOLIN programme has been deliberately integrated and generalist; that is, it believes in training the whole person to enable him/her to be at the service of all through the blending of value courses and social sciences as well as management and practical skills.
SEARSOLIN focuses on the ‘head” (theory/thinking), the ‘heart’ (values/loving), and the ‘hands’ (practical/doing. The pedagogy is more “hands-on” than strictly academic. The community live-in training of several months provides a unique experience and rich socio-cultural dynamics during which the international participants develop fellowship, camaraderie and leadership values and skills.
Dr Anselmo B Mercado, Director of SEARSOLIN, summed it up as a continuing journey, training rural social leaders who make a great deal of difference to rural communities in several developing countries.
He said it is a journey that will continue with each and every one of us who is in development work with the poor through our various programmes to alleviate poverty, to enhance people’s assets, resources and capacities, to bring about justice and human development, to bring love and lasting peace to a trouble world.