SU to teach financial literacy to fishers in Southern Negros
Silliman University (SU) will implement in Southern Negros the national financial education program for fishers, launched recently by the Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (DA-BFAR) in partnership with the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), BDO Foundation, and Fish Right Program.
The financial education program will train fishers on topics such as saving and budgeting, supplementary income sources, and the proper use of micro-loans and micro-insurance.
Dr. Betty Cernol McCann, SU president, said the financial education program aims to help alleviate poverty among fishing communities and free fishers from the pressure of overfishing, a practice that damages marine ecosystems.
“Striking a balance of alleviating the plight of our fishing communities and restoring the health of our environment aligns with the University’s vision of a leading Christian institution committed to total human development for the well-being of society and environment,” McCann said.
SU is involved in the program because it is an implementing institution of the Fish Right Program in Southern Negros. The Fish Right Program is a partnership between DA-BFAR and the US Agency for International Development (USAID) that aims to improve marine biodiversity and the fisheries sector in three key ecological areas in the Philippines.
With its experience in the fisheries sector, Fish Right Program implementors across the country including SU were tapped for the financial education program to reach as many fishing communities as possible.
“Through USAID Fish Right program, we hope to build the capacity of more than 25,000 fishers with the intent to reach even more with the help of our partner NGOs and universities in Calamianes Island Group, South Negros, and Visayan Sea,” said Patrick Wesner, USAID Philippines deputy mission director.
Asst. Prof. Mylah Bomediano, representative of the SU Government Affairs (SUGA) Center in the Technical Working Group (TWG) for the financial education program, said SU is responsible for the rollout of the financial education program in Southern Negros and has contributed to the development of the training modules that will be used in the program.
Bomediano is working in the TWG with Robert Montebon, the economics specialist of the Southern Negros team for the Fish Right Program (SNFR) who leads the implementation of the financial education program in Southern Negros.
“As members in the TWG, (the Southern Negros team for the Fish Right Program and SU) provided input and comments to the financial education modules being developed [and spearheaded by] BSP,” Bomediano added.
Among those who contributed to the development of the financial education program module include: Dr. Ben S. Malayang III, principal investigator of the SNFR and former SU president; Clint Alvior and Ed Morano, SU Institute of Environmental and Marine Sciences staff who are also part of the SNFR; Rizza Beronio, representative of USAID and University of Rhode Island in the SNFR; and Atty. Eduisa Diocos and Prof. Ofelia Ragpa, SUGA Center trainers.
Bomediano said SU conducted the first field testing of the financial education program modules among potential trainers in Southern Negros, which includes representatives from SUGA Center, BFAR in Negros Oriental, DCCCO Multipurpose Cooperative, and the Negros Oriental Electric Cooperative. Bomediano served as the principal facilitator in the said event.
The potential trainers from the said organizations in Negros Oriental also contributed to the module development.
DA-BFAR, in a press release, said the training modules are said to be based on “5Ms,” which stands for “Maging mapagkalinga sa karagatan; Mag-impok ngayon para sa kinabukasan; Magpalago ng kita sa pamamagitan ng pagne-negosyo; Mag-seguro para protektado; at Maging matalino sa pag-utang.” (Be protective of the seas; Save now for the future; Grow income through business; Get insurance to be protected; and Be smart when borrowing money.)
It also mentioned that the program will establish a system to measure and improve the effectiveness of the training on fishers’ financial behavior.
PATH Foundation Philippines Inc. (PFPI), another implementing partner of the Fish Right Program, is also working with SU on the financial education program.
National scientist and renowned Sillimanian Dr. Angel C. Alcala, who is currently the PFPI president, said: “Providing our underserved fishers, especially the women, with knowledge and skills to manage their finances well is so much aligned with our mission of promoting community empowerment and alleviating poverty. We at PFPI believe that no matter how meager fishers’ incomes are, prudent spending and saving decisions could help them achieve financial health, participate more in efforts to conserve our marine resources—their source of livelihood—and be better partners towards attaining sustainable and resilient fisheries.”