For years, many of the extension program and projects of some colleges and universities were defined by Medical Missions and Relief Operations, thereby focusing on the dole-out system. This is most probably due to the reason that most, if not all of the faculty members and students alike do not have a common knowledge of what extension is.
Putting it simply, let me ask you these questions. Does your university offer non-degree courses? How about refresher or review classes? Seminars? Conferences? Continuing Education Programs? Research Results Demonstration Technological forums? Exhibits? A pool of expert services? If they do have, are the students, faculty and administrative staff, administration, alumni and university partner organizations and community, work hand in hand for these projects? And if they are involved, does these programs and projects geared towards the holistic development of the entity mentioned herein? The answers to these questions refer to the definition of Extension.
Efforts can be made to relaunch extension programs and training by coordinating with inter-college and university departments. Re-alignment of existing seminars and other related activities should be reviewed in lieu of the different elements of Extension work and programs. It should be noted that extension programs and activities is but one of the triadic function of education. The other two namely, research and education, go hand in hand with extension. All these three functions complement the other thus, helping a certain educational institution produce a holistic individual socially aware of the existent issues in society and intellectually equipped to help in providing sustainable solutions.
This is not to say that medical mission is not a good activity. It merely emphasize that such medical outreach programs can serve as springboard for better and more sustainable programs and projects to address the problems that were identified in the medical endeavor. The medical mission is also a good strategy to create a pool of professional individuals to tap for other resources, whether economic, physical, educational and human.
From the medical mission activities, individuals with leadership qualities can be identified which will later on serve as coordinating channel to reach more people within the area of the mission. The significance of tapping a community insider for leadership and group formation is to further help the community residents to identify with the person or group of persons assigned to form health or other community-related organizations within their community. The key is to help the community help themselves, not to give them what they need.
Extension programs and projects operate on the principle that an individual regardless of educational attainment and economic level has something to contribute to the community. It is up to the extension planner or coordinator to bring these individuals the realization that even the smallest and poorest entity of the community can help each and everyone in the community through sustainable development-oriented programs.