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School gardens expanded to other Asean countries

The concept of school gardens has obtained wide support in the Southeast Asian region to focus on the nutrition of schoolchildren and introduce them to agriculture at a young age.

At the 2017 Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization (Seameo) High Officials Meeting held in Bangkok, Director Gil C. Saguiguit Jr. of the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (Searca) was commended for proposing to education officials from Asean member-states and Timor-Leste the proliferation of school gardens throughout the region as a way to address schoolchildren’s nutrition and education needs and to generate interest in agriculture at a young age.

The regional meeting recognized that the Philippine government-hosted Searca has successfully demonstrated how school gardens can improve the health and nutrition of schoolchildren, while providing opportunities for learning by experience, as well as raising the economic well-being of their families.

Saguiguit noted that “credit goes to the Philippines and Searca for piloting the innovative school-gardens concept and showing that it works.”

The center piloted the school-gardens program in one high school and five elementary schools in Laguna, in cooperation with the Department of Education Laguna and the University of the Philippines Los Baños.

Labuin Elementary School in Pila won the 2017 Seameo-Japan Education and Sustainable Development Award for its school-garden project.

Saguiguit said training and other capacity-building activities to transfer the unique school-gardens concept to other Southeast Asian countries will radiate from the pilot schools.

Searca’s school-gardens program is one of its initiatives that are a departure from its traditional way of bringing across its message to promote inclusive and sustainable agricultural and rural development (Isard). Other alternative ways through which Searca promotes Isard are through agri-tourism and the establishment of a Southeast Asian AgriMuseum.

“These may be basic things but they have the potential to enable Searca to better articulate its message and mission,” Saguiguit said.

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