The National School Garden Programme was officially launched today (October 10), under the theme: ‘Youth Response to Food Security’, during a ceremony at Jamaica College in Kingston.
Minister of State in the Ministry of Agriculture, J.C. Hutchinson, pointed out that $108 million has been allocated to the programme, and the Jamaica 4-H Clubs would take charge of it.
Assistant Chief Education Officer, Technical and Vocational Unit, Ministry of Education, Olive Maragh (left), accepts a fruit basket from Simon Morgan, student at Ferncourt High School, at the launch of the National School Garden Programme, at Jamaica College, today (October 10).
“Over a three year period, the main goal is to implement approximately 1,000 gardens in primary, secondary and tertiary level schools across the island. I am very pleased that the programme has been receiving overwhelming response and 340 schools have so far been registered, including schools with existing gardens that are being assisted with technical support and inputs,” Mr. Hutchinson said.
Minister of State for Agriculture, J.C. Hutchinson (left), accepts a fruit basket from Tashauna Brennan, student at the Montego Bay Community College, at the launch of the National School Garden Programme, at Jamaica College, today (October 10).
He also informed that some 95 schools have already received inputs, including seeds, farm tools, broilers, layer birds, goats, rabbits, chemicals and fertiliser, costing well over $3.5 million.
The programme has five major objectives: to get young persons to recognise and accept the role they must play in food production; to encourage environmental awareness in sustainable agriculture; to select careers in agriculture; to treat agriculture as a viable business option; and to integrate service learning into the formal education process.
“The programme also seeks to include curriculum integration. In this regard, the Jamaica 4-H Clubs are in discussion with the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), which is preparing a project to link school gardens with school curricula and nutrition programmes,” the State Minister noted.
Explaining the rationale behind the School Garden Programme, Mr. Hutchinson said it would encourage children to work together, not only through gardening tasks, such as weeding and watering, but also through observation and problem solving techniques.
“School gardens can help children comprehend and improve Math skills through gardening projects that cover anything from geometry and counting to collecting, organising and displaying data. It is also great for teaching kids about history, how people lived before us and where many things originated,” Mr. Hutchinson explained.
He also pointed out that students could become scientists, learning all about things like ecology, weather, plants and nutrition, through their participation in the programme.
Meanwhile, Executive Director of the Jamaica 4-H Clubs, Lenworth Fulton, noted that seven School Garden Officers have been assigned to the programme.
“Each officer will serve in two parishes. These parishes are zoned from zone one to zone seven. Officers have been receiving on the job training, which will be completed by month end,” Mr. Fulton said.
He argued that the programme is here to “revolutionise the general perception of agriculture.”
“I would like to thank the Ministry of Agriculture for having the foresight of re-branding the programme and placing it in the stewardship of the Jamaica 4-H Clubs,” Mr. Fulton said.