Over 200 schools will receive funding from Australia via the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) to build entrepreneurial school gardens in the North, Central and Uva Provinces to support nutritional security among children.
The FAO and the Australian Aid said in a joint statement that the entrepreneurial school gardens programme is implemented as part of a project funded by the Australian government totalling over USD 2.3 million.
It is aimed at improving the food and nutritional security of groups most affected by the ongoing economic crisis, particularly women and children.
The programme features a discovery-based learning approach for over 100,000 secondary school students from grades 8 – 12, where they will be educated on the capacity to transform their school gardens into sources of nutritious produce that will facilitate diverse and healthy eating habits and encourage students to apply entrepreneurial thinking to agriculture. 505 school teachers from the three provinces were also trained on the discovery-based learning methodology as part of the programme to improve skills in food security, nutrition, agriculture and entrepreneurship.
The Agriculture club in each school will be empowered to operate as a core programme partner that will oversee the coordination and navigation of the programme alongside school officials. It will also oversee the sale of harvests from the gardens and will be linked to sales points including private sector organisations, parents of students, local markets, or the national school meal programme via FAO to ensure the harvests of the gardens generate an income – thereby ensuring the sustainability of the gardens beyond the project period.
Australia’s High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, Paul Stephens said, “School gardening has the potential to both improve children’s health and support learning. Involving students in school gardening and teaching them about the benefits of nutrition can have a lasting impact. This programme is helping to highlight the value of growing food for household food security.”
“We are appreciative of this generous assistance from the people of Australia, which has enabled this sustainable school-to-home knowledge transfer approach to strengthen food security among school children,” said FAO Representative in Sri Lanka, Vimlendra Sharan adding, “School gardens offer rich environments for children to engage in active learning. The knowledge will be transferred through students to their family members and by extension, to the communities, prompting an attitudinal change on food consumption habits and new agricultural concepts.”
The statement further said the FAO will work closely with the Ministry of Education, Department of Agriculture, Ministry of Health and the Chief Secretariat of Uva, Central and Northern provinces, to educate children and faculty on eco-friendly agricultural practices and nutrition. (NewsWire)