A good diet is essential for school-aged children. It fuels children so they can study, stay healthy, have energy to play, help their parents and get through the day. School gardens are a sustainable way to provide children, in farming communities, with the nutritious meals they need to focus in school and teach them life skills.
Living in Rural Areas
Working in agriculture provides both food and crucial income for millions of families in rural areas around the world. However, in less economically developed areas, shocks such as poor weather, natural disasters, or illness, can mean that some parents find it hard to afford to feed their children three times a day. Many children then have to go to school on an empty stomach, with high drop outs after lunch time as children either go looking for food, or go work in the fields to contribute to the family funds. Work done by a child which interferes with education is considered child labour.
The Role of School Gardens
School gardens are plots of land owned and tended by the community, where they can grow produce with and for the students in the local school. Using organic farming methods and relevant crops children can learn how to tend to a vegetable garden of their own safely. For those who wish to become farmers when they grow up, it gives them the basic skills they need whilst allowing them to focus on their education.
Fighting Child Labour
These plots are also used to explain the dangers of child labour and hazardous work to parents and other members of the community. Whilst it is a learning space for children, the main work of planting, watering, tending to and harvesting the crops is done by adults. The harvested food is then given to the school to feed the students and teachers. In many communities, the parents also take pleasure in cooking for the school and share duties. School gardens, a simple, locally-owned solution, which are a powerful tool in the fight against child labour.
2018 ECLT School Garden Facts
- 7’000+ children received school meals, so they can concentrate on their studies with a full stomach.
- 12 schools with school gardens cared for by local parents for a sustainable source of food in Uganda and Malawi.
- 40 minutes is the average “school garden agricultural skills lesson” for positive transmission of local knowledge.
- 4 local crops, corn, beans, potatoes and cassava, are the base for nutritious school lunches.